An engagement is a wonderful thing – and it means a lot of changes. One of the biggest might be your living situation – as a married couple cohabitation is a must, whereas when you are dating, you can easily keep separate residences. But before you get to experience the bliss of married life in your ‘together’ home, you need to know what to do about the business side of living together – especially if you have never lived together before.
Nowadays it is not uncommon for many marriages to occur after one or more partners has begun paying off a mortgage. As a real estate agent I get a lot of questions about how to handle properties bought or leased as singles when it’s time to tie the knot.
Whether you have been renting or are chipping away at a mortgage, there are a few basic things you need to know about your options for moving in together.
Leaving a Rental Property
If you are at the end of your lease before your big day, then good timing! If you need a bit of extra time you could consider renting on a month-to-month basis until you are ready to move. Many landlords will be happy with this option.
It is more complicated to leave a rental property before your lease has been completed. According to your lease agreement, there will be a number of costs you may be up for, including reletting fees, advertising fees and rental payments until the new tenants take possession. If this is the situation you are in, my best advice is to let the agent know your plans early, and make sure you present the property well for open inspections. The sooner it is leased by someone new, the less rent you will need to pay!
Options for Home Owners
If you are both savvy enough to have invested in the property market, you certainly have options when you move in together.
One of the first decisions you will need to make is about keeping both properties, or selling one.
If you choose to sell to free up some money, put the property on the market as soon as you can. Most sales result in a 60 – 90 day settlement, and you may be uncomfortable leaving the property empty all this time. It could also be a waste of resources to pay mortgage on an empty property while you are living together in married bliss in another home.
Meet with a number of agents and ask their advice about how to make the property market-ready. A small investment now could make the sale price a lot higher later. You’ll be surprised how improving the front garden, bathrooms or parking options will improve the value of a property.
Alternatively, you could keep the second property as an investment and rent it out. This can really help you pay off your home loan fast, and signing up with a real estate agency means that you wont have to look after the day-to-day details of maintaining the property. They deal with the tenants, leaving you free to get on with married life.
Once you tie the knot, it’s important that a lawyer protects your assets by adding the names of both husband and wife to any existing properties. This includes situations in which one partner has a mortgage and the other doesn’t. Whenever property is involved in a marriage, it’s great to get some straightforward legal advice. Make an appointment with a conveyancer to ensure all the legalities are covered. You may also want to chat to a financial advisor about the costs and benefits of any decision you make.
Keep an eye out for future posts on how to manage the move itself (and even what to do about all that extra furniture).