These days it seems like you can't turn on the news without hearing about the constantly increasing price of real estate, making it clear that the popular dream of home ownership is becoming ever more elusive for many.
But here's where co-ownership comes in. This newly emerging trend has friends going in on buying a property together, splitting the risks and rewards of carrying a mortgage and maintaining a home. While purchasing a house with a good buddy may be the only way for some people to ever own a property, it comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some tips for coping with home co-ownership.
Get on the Same Page
While you and your bestie may be alike in innumerable ways, you should make sure you're looking for similar things in a property. You'll both need to outline what aspects of your new home are open to compromise (such as whether a home is walking distance to a gym or has free street parking) and what qualities are must-haves (a yard, for example, or more than one bathroom).
Put Rules in Writing
It's easy when things are going well to assume that you and your best bud will be able to weather any disputes rationally and amicably. However, when your friend starts allowing family members to stay in the guest room for indefinite periods of time or shows up with a puppy that they just had to adopt, the situation can get heated very quickly. Before you and your friend sign on the dotted line, be sure to create a detailed list of household rules that cover as many contingencies as possible. You may even want to consult a lawyer with your list so that an official, legally enforceable contract can be drawn up to ensure you both adhere to the house rules.
Plan a Budget Ahead of Time
It's simplistic to assume that as co-owners you'll both happily pay for all things 50/50. What if your friend starts insisting that you need all-new, top-of-the-line appliances or wants the air-conditioning running in the summer 24/7? An honest and open conversation about who pays what percent of which bills can go far to alleviate potentially friendship-ruining disputes.
Have an Out
Things change. While you may both go into home co-ownership assuming that you'll live together long term, one of you may meet someone you want to marry, or get a terrific job offer that means moving out of the area. There are numerous options to cover these kind of contingencies (like selling or refinancing the home), so it's wise to draw up a contract that covers what happens if someone needs to pull out of the home co-ownership.
Focus on the Positive
Much like buying a home with a spouse, the process of living together and discovering each other's idiosyncrasies will give rise to many ups and downs. When your friend's habit of never turning off a light is driving you crazy, just remember that you'd never have been able to afford a home without them and hopefully you'll learn to take the good with the bad.
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