Gay and Lesbian couples are in a unique situation when it comes
to mortgages and home purchases. The problem lies less in getting a
mortgage or purchasing a home than in what happens to the property if
the relationship breaks up or one of the partners dies.
states do not recognize lesbian and gay relationships,” says attorney
Joan M. Burda. “The laws in those states were not written with the legal
rights of lesbian and gay couples in mind. Many states predicate their
property statutes on marriage. In most states, lesbians and gay men have
no or limited legal rights. But, a good lawyer can help you protect
yourself, your partner, and your property—separate and joint." It’s
funny to approach starting a new phase in a relationship and buying
property by thinking about what might happen if that relationship ends.
But that kind of planning is crucial. “If a couple is buying, they need
an agreement in writing,” says Burda. “If you have one partner who puts
down more and they break up ten years later, and the house has to be
divided, you have a mess. They need to work this out in the beginning.”
the home buying process and the mortgage maze is intimidating enough.
Add to it the societal and legal complications of being a same-sex
couple and you are potentially in for a stressful ride. Knowing what to
prepare for and thinking ahead can only make that ride a little bit
Talk to a Lawyer
will give readers a better understanding of the issues involved in
purchasing or financing a home. It will also help readers to ask the
right questions when speaking to a legal professional. This guide is NOT
a substitute for specific, tailored advice from a licensed attorney.
Having a real estate lawyer who is knowledgeable about same-sex issues
is essential. The laws differ from state to state and things change all
the time. Legal advice can be expensive, but as one attorney told us,
it’s a lot more expensive to clean up a legal mess after the fact.
often asked,” says Joan M. Burda, "Can I do this myself? Or, do I
REALLY need a lawyer?" My answer: yes, you can prepare all your legal
documents yourself. BUT, if you do it wrong, you may not find out until
after you're dead or you break up. Then, it's too late. You cannot