My boyfriend and I bought a house together. I put down my life savings of 20,000 dollars, and he put down 1,900. We are no longer together. If we put the house back on the market and get fair market value of the home which is more than the payoff am I able to get back the money that I put down and then split the difference?

  • 1
    At a minimum, the answer to this is going to depend on where you are located. Several countries call their currency "dollars", so that's not something we can go by; I can think of Singapore, Canada, Australia and the USA that does, but there could be others. Please tell us where you are located.
    – user
    May 13, 2017 at 21:29
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    The other information needed is what did the agreement between the two of you say - was it 50/50 ownership despite the difference in initial layout?
    – gef05
    May 13, 2017 at 22:22

3 Answers 3


I cannot emphasize enough how important it is, when you buy a house with someone you are not married to, to make a legal agreement on how the money should be divided when you sell. I know it's too late for you, but I write this for anyone else reading this answer.

From a legal point of view, if you made no agreement otherwise, you each own 50% of the house. If you want to divide it any other way, you will have to agree what an appropriate division is. Dividing according to the amount each of you paid towards it is a good way. Decide for yourselves if that means just mortgage payments, or also taxes, repairs, utilities etc.

You should also be aware that if you have been living together a long time, like more than a year, some jurisdictions will allow one party to sue the other as if they were getting divorced. Then the courts would be involved in the division of property.

  • "if you have been living together a long time" a de facto common law marriage?
    – RonJohn
    May 14, 2017 at 16:25
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    A legal point of view requires knowing the jurisdiction in which the house lies, something we do not know.
    – chepner
    May 14, 2017 at 17:12
  • I'm shocked all mortgage companies don't require this. When my sister-in-law tried to get a mortgage with her BF, they (or the title company) required it (in Virginia). May 14, 2017 at 23:53
  • @AaronD.Marasco what would be the benefit to a mortgage company to do so?
    – iheanyi
    May 15, 2017 at 0:32
  • @iheanyi To know who to go after in the case of default I assume? May 15, 2017 at 0:47

You should have drafted a contract of purchase that stipulated out equity stake in the home based of his down payment and yours, along with future monthly payments.

But morally, if the house sells, yielding 100,000 profit (after fees/taxes/etc), you should get (

To Calculate Your Cut:

(20,000 + Your Total Mortgage Payments Applied to Principle) / (1,900 + His Total Mortgage Payments Applied to Principle Only) * Profit on Sale of House After All Fees = Your Cut

His would be:

(1,900 + His Total Mortgage Payments Applied to Principle Only) / (20,000 + Your Total Mortgage Payments Applied to Principle) * Profit on Sale of House After All Fees = His Cut

You'd then take mortgage payment totals for each; and calculate the payments made towards interest; and claim the correct amount each of you paid on payments for the mortgage interest deduction when you file your taxes. Although, depending on how the loan is written, the banks may issue 1099s which dont reflect actual payments made... Talk to an accountant.

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    Any attempt to define the 'morally correct' answer on limited information is a bit suspect. May 14, 2017 at 16:03

To quote Judge Judy: "Our courts are not in the business of settling assets of couples who decide to play house".

This is one of the reasons we put off buying houses with a partner until we are married. The courts have rules for couples who marry, then split, but none for those who don't.

In the scenerio you spelled out, you are at the mercy of your ex-boyfriend as far as getting your downpayment back. Legally, you are entitled to 50% of the funds remaining after the sale and expenses.

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    " The courts have rules for couples who marry, then split, but none for those who don't." That may be true in Judge Judy's jurisdiction, but it's not true everywhere. Some places treat common law relationships like marriage. May 14, 2017 at 19:50

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