Buying a Home with your Friend
With the price of Vancouver Real Estate going up (and still) it’s becoming harder and harder to own a property yourself, especially without the help of a partner or family. I’ve had quite a few Buyers over the years ask about the possibility of buying a property with their friend. It’s definitely a possibility, but you have to know the risks involved, and you have to be prepared with a solid contract between you and your co-owners to cover all the details of the ownership agreement.
Though I’ve never had friends or clients pursue a co-ownership agreement, I have heard good stories of it working well for the Buyers, and I’ve heard horror stories of it ending with a ruined friendship and an expensive legal battle.
Prior to embarking on a search for a property with your friend, you need to sort out your finances and sort out the Co-Ownership agreement that will detail, in a written contract, everything regarding the ownership of the property.
Mortgage Approval for Co-Ownership
First, you need to sit down with a Mortgage Broker who can assist in approving both parties with their mortgage financing. I know Vancity had a good program with regards to Co-Ownership (they call it the Mixer Mortgage) but other financial institutions and lenders will have similar programs. A good mortgage broker will be able to sort out a solid mortgage with good terms, and can explain your options. Keep in mind that one persons bad credit or debts can affect mortgage approval for the other person.
Drafting an Agreement for Co-Ownership
Secondly, and most important, you need to sit down with a good Lawyer to iron out most of the details of the Co-Ownership agreement (some details would be property specific, and should be decided before or during your due diligence period of the house in question). Our Team often and highly recommends Bell Alliance for any of your legal services. They have outlined some of the details you need to decide prior to entering into a Co-Ownership agreement here: Bell Alliance – Co-Ownership Agreements. These include everything from who pays what bills, what happens if one party isn’t able to pay the mortgage, what happens if one party wants to sell, percentage of ownership and who handles the tenants (if any), along with much more.
Once these details are solidified, you can start looking for that home! Remember to keep a level head and a logical mindset when pursuing this option, and don’t shy away from having tough conversations with your friend about the pros and cons of each property, what you envision for the future, and what you need in order for this to work for you.