The Real e-State: Learn about housing and mortgage issues involving same-sex couples

We were recently contacted by a reader who wanted to thank us for maintaining such a valuable resource at SDGLN. The reader also recommended a resource to share with other readers.

After investigating, I also found the information to be solid and informative resource.

If you have information or resources that you would like to share or you have a topic that you would like to know more about, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to look into your ideas.

When I entered into home ownership, I was naive. This was before my real estate career and I was purchasing with someone. I made mistakes that you can avoid by listening to this advice below before purchasing.

When it comes to protecting your money, the operative word is your. You are the only one that can. I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had been more educated and prepared for what lay ahead.

As same-sex couples, we are often two-income households, and our challenges don’t lie in qualifying. We do, however, face different challenges with the properties when a partner unexpectedly dies or our relationship ends.

The laws were written for and written to protect the majority. It’s 2011, and we still do not have equal rights or the same protections as our heterosexual counterparts at the federal level or even at the state level in most states.

This is one of those areas that our parents really can’t advise us well because they have no experience with this, unless you have same-sex parents.

In the guide “Housing & Mortgages for Gay & Lesbian Couples,” the authors urge you to speak to a lawyer. I strongly recommend doing this before taking title with another individual. This does not show distrust; this shows wisdom and the ability for you to take the lead in doing what is best for the both of you. This is how you take care of someone you love.

I have included the pitfalls from the guide to get you thinking but I highly recommend going to the link and reading the entire guide there is some important information about how to take title and what questions to ask when speaking with an attorney.

Potential pitfalls

Here are a few of the types of situations that can occur if you don’t establish your property rights ahead of time:

1. Diane and Karen break up after owning their home for 10 years. When they bought the house, Diane supplied the down payment, an inheritance from a wealthy aunt. Through the years, though, both Diane and Karen contributed equally to the mortgage payments. Due to the economy, the house is now worth $10,000 less than when it was purchased. Considering Diane’s upfront investment, what is a fair division of assets when the couple sells the house? What if one partner wants to remain in the house?

2. Jason and Ken break up after five years of living together. Jason is looking for a clean break. He wants to sell the house that they jointly own, pay off the mortgage, and divide the assets. Ken wants to stay in the house, but does not have the money to buy Jason out. Should the couple be forced to sell the house?

3. Allison and Kendra buy a house but only Allison is on the mortgage because Kendra’s credit score was dismal at the time of purchase. Both have contributed equally to the mortgage payments over the years. When the couple break up, Allison claims that the house is legally hers. What recourse does Kendra have?

4. Sophie and Violeta break up. Violeta moves out and decides to stop contributing to the mortgage payments as she no longer lives in the house. Sophie, who was surprised by the breakup and did not plan for this situation, cannot afford to pay the whole mortgage and is in danger of going into foreclosure. Can she legally force Violeta to contribute?

5. The house and mortgage are in the name of Alan, Roger’s recently deceased partner. Alan never updated his will and did not establish who the property would go to. In this case, Alan’s estate goes to Alan’s parents — even though Alan verbally said that he wanted it to go to Roger in the event of his death. Is there any way for Roger to legally keep the house?

6. Gary passes away. Though he had joint ownership with his partner Jim, Gary’s share goes to his parents — and they want to sell the house! After living in the same neighborhood for 20 years, selling the house would force Jim to move to a different neighborhood as he can’t afford to buy a new house nearby. Is there any way to legally prevent Gary’s parents from selling?

To read the full guide, click HERE.

To read additional resources provided by, click HERE.

The price of a consult with a real estate attorney is an absolute bargain compared to the financial and emotional cost of a problem that might crop up down the road. Purchasing a home with a partner can be wonderful step in a relationship and as a financial decision just do with wisdom.

Realtor Bo Bortner offers his sound advice and personal knowledge of the industry as a successful agent with Team Metro Real Estate. He is well-versed in Hillcrest, North Park, University Heights, Mission Hills, Golden Hill and downtown, but his clients come from all over. He gives back to the community through his involvement with Mama's Kitchen, The Trevor Project and University Christian Church. He can be reached at (619) 840-2981 or online at his website.

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