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Dave Says: Don't Buy a House Together Before You're Married

OCTOBER 30, 2023

Dear Dave,
My fiancée and I plan to get married in May, and we are preparing to buy a house. We both work in sales, and combined we bring home about $7,400 a month before commissions. Our average commissions usually boost that to $12,000 a month. I’m worried that the house we’re looking at doesn’t fit our budget, though. The home costs $350,000, and we’re looking at monthly payments of $2,840 with taxes and insurance figured in. Do you think this scenario will work for us?

Dear J.T.,
Are you doing this on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage? If you’re not, you need to change that right away. That’s the only kind of mortgage loan I recommend. With the numbers you’ve given me, you two can afford that on the shorter terms I mentioned.

Now, let’s move on to the next thing. You’re speaking about buying a home as if you’re already married, and you’re not. I will not advise you to buy a house with someone to whom you’re not married. You’re talking to a guy who’s been doing this for 35 years, and I’ve heard all the horror stories that go along with, “We bought the house together, but we didn’t make it to the altar together.” Talk about an ugly breakup!

You two have a bad case of house fever right now. Believe it or not, you aren’t required by law to run out and buy a home just because you’re planning to get married. Please, wait until after the wedding to buy a home. And even then, wait another year or so. Buying a home is the biggest—and most expensive—life decision most people ever make. Take some time to just enjoy being married and getting to know each other even better for a while.

Listen, if you’ve already jumped the gun, if you already have this house under contract or anything like that, I would not close the deal. I’d talk to the sellers and tell them they can keep my earnest money, but I’m walking away. And get ready, because if you do this, your fiancée is liable to look at you like you’ve got snakes coming out of your ears. Make sure to communicate with her about where you’re coming from and why you’re doing it. It’s the best, and smartest, thing you can do in the long run, J.T.

I’m not predicting you two are going to break up or anything. I hope with all my heart nothing like that happens. But I’m begging you, buddy. Don’t buy a home with someone you’re not legally married to. The potential downside is just too great.
— Dave

* Dave Ramsey is an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people take control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.