Sunday, March 7, 2010

Engagement and real estate -- do they mix? An expert answers your questions...

From left, an engagement ring, then a plus sign, then a green Monopoly game house, then an equal sign and then a question mark
My fiance and I just got engaged and we are planning to get married in about a year. He owns his apartment. Does his apartment automatically become mine once we're married?

His apartment stays his -- but what happens to it if you two divorce is another matter. Some states would say that if you pay some of the apartment's bills during the marriage, it begins to become community property; other states don't. You might want to check with a lawyer in the state where you're getting married just to be sure. Also, I know it doesn't sound romantic, but in cases where one partner has real estate and the other doesn't, I'd consider a prenup.

My fiance and I are thinking of buying an apartment. Is it better to wait to do it until after we are married?

I would say yes -- you already have enough stress planning the wedding, and then, right after, adjusting to your new hubby/wife roles.

My fiance and I are looking for a rental apartment but I have really bad credit. His credit is perfect. Will a landlord even consider us if we both put our names on the application or should only he apply? What would happen if we waited until after we got married to get the apartment?

He should apply for the apartment under his credit, putting you on the application as an "additional resident" so the landlord is not deceived about who's moving in. If you wait until you're married, play it the same way, as 1950s as it sounds. But realize that when you want to buy a home, if you need both incomes, the mortgage bank will then be looking at your credit score -- so start cleaning it up now!

Alison Rogers is the author of "Diary of A Real Estate Rookie," a memoir of her first year as a real estate agent, stuffed full of tips for renters, buyers and sellers.

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