Fixer-Upper 

Ten questions to ask before you buy.

According to Frederick Hertz, coauthor of Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, any unwed couple considering buying a home together should sign a written agreement covering their co-ownership. Key issues to consider are:

1. How much is each partner contributing to the purchase, and if one is contributing more than the other, is that excess a gift or a loan?

2. How are the ongoing costs to be allocated, and how is any excess contribution to be treated?

3. How are decisions to be made about renovation or repair?

4. Have both parties agreed on how to use the house?

5. What will occur if either partner wants to sell the property?

6. In the event of a breakup, who gets first right of purchase if both partners want to keep the house?

7. How will proceeds of any sale be distributed?

8. What happens to each partner's equity if one dies unexpectedly?

9. How is the couple taking title to the property?

10. If the couple subsequently gets married, will this change the ownership arrangement?

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