In Summary

  • A major advantage when couples decide to either buy land or build together is that in most instances, they tend to have  different skills and approaches to life.
  • While handling real estate investments, clearly outlining each party’s responsibility will go a long way in helping reduce the number of disputes.
  • If both of you have regular incomes, you could decide to apply for a mortgage that you will service jointly. Partnering with your spouse for a mortgage is advantageous in that  it can raise your credit score and, therefore, enable you to qualify for a bigger mortgage than you would get  if  you apply for the loan on your own.

As a clergyman, Bishop Anthony Ndichu spends a lot of his  time counselling couples.

“You might think that the biggest source of discordance among married couples is infidelity, but couples usually learn to rise above that in the end. How couples spend their money is actually what many couples who come to me quarrel about,” he says at his office in Pama House in Kiambu County.

The bishop reveals that most husbands do not seek to actively involve their wives when making investments. This often leads to resentment on the part of the wives as they feel like they are being taken for granted in the marriage.

“Cases of wives plotting to kill their husbands are being reported by the media more often nowadays. This happens because wives have been denied the chance to take part in the family’s investment and the only way left for them to gain some control becomes killing their husbands,” says the bishop.

But even when couples invest  together in real estate, the ride is never smooth. Bishop Ndichu says that being in business with your spouse can add considerable strain to one’s relationship.

“Things always go wrong with business and partners, even in marriage, end up pointing fingers at each other when a venture fails. But if you got married to the right partner who always has your back no matter the situation, then investing together can be the best way to ensure you collectively create a future that you both desire. As a couple, you can accomplish more together than apart,” says the counsellor.

A major advantage when couples decide to either buy land or build together is that in most instances, they tend to have  different skills and approaches to life.

Bishop Ndichu gives the example of a case in which the wife has great people skills while the husband has an eye for detail. While the husband will use this trait to carefully analyse potential investments, the wife can put her people skills to use when it comes to contract negotiation and signing up new clients or tenants.

Couples should always strive to be transparent with each other in all the investments they make and create a shared investment vision together.

“When the husband and wife do not share a common vision of what they want their lives to look like in future, then any investment option suggested by either partner will fail due to lack of spousal support. No matter how hard you try to convince your spouse to let you invest in real estate, their interests will always lie somewhere else if you lack a common vision,” says the bishop.

POISONING RELATIONSHIPS

He adds that couples should sit together and write down plans on how they view their marriage in five, 10, 20 and even 50 years to come. With every major decision, the couple should ask themselves whether the investment decision leads them towards the desired  goal or takes them further away from it.

While handling real estate investments, clearly outlining each party’s responsibility will go a long way in helping reduce the number of disputes.

If you are running a block of rentals, for instance, agree between yourselves who will be in charge of collecting rent and who will take care of submitting taxes, attending to tenants’ welfare and recruiting new tenants. If neither of you is good at a performing a certain task (say, being in charge of renovations), then hire a professional to take care of it and decide which one of you will  be responsible for liaising with the professional.

“With most married partners, one partner often seeks to arrogate themselves all the important roles or closely controls the work of the other partner. If you cannot trust your partner to take care of tasks they are clearly competent in, then the marriage might be having deeper trust issues that need to be addressed,” Bishop Ndichu points out.

And in cases where one partner makes a mistake that  results in the loss of substantial amounts of money, Bishop Ndichu advises against criticising your better half. Everyone makes mistakes, he says, adding that couples should avoid poisoning their relationship with bitter criticism that could easily sink their marriage.

“You need to always have your partner’s back even s when your investments are making losses as no amount of financial gain is worth throwing your marriage away for,” he argues.

The bishop also advises couples not let their entire lives revolve around their investments.

 “Avoid speaking about your investments over dinner and if possible, keep business discussions out on weekends and other family time. It is not healthy for either a marriage or a business when a couple uses every available opportunity  discuss their investments.” he advises.

Financing your first home

For couples seeking money to buy their first home, the question regarding which partner should get the bank loan is often a grey area. And so is who should be listed as the owner of the home.

Ms Dorothy Chepkoech, a financial auditor with the National Bank of Kenya, says that just because a mortgage loan appears in one partner’s name doesn’t mean both partners cannot be listed as the owners of the home. You can still put your spouse’s name on the home’s title even if only your name appears on the mortgage loan.

If both of you have regular incomes, you could decide to apply for a mortgage that you will service jointly. Partnering with your spouse for a mortgage is advantageous in that  it can raise your credit score and, therefore, enable you to qualify for a bigger mortgage than you would get  if  you apply for the loan on your own. This can allow  you to buy a  bigger home or a home in a better neighbourhood.

However, Ms Chepkoech warns that should one of you default on their share of the payment, then the entire mortgage is deemed as defaulted and you risk losing your home. In situations where one partner loses their job and cannot continue servicing the loan, Ms Chepkoech advises that the financially stable partner strive to cover his/her payments as well as their partner’s.

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