How to Set Priorities When You’re Co-Buying a House

Make sure that you and your co-buyer want the same things in a house before you purchase real estate together.

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Taking the leap from renting to owning can be expensive. Not only will you have to come up with the down payment, but you'll also have to pay expenses like insurance, property taxes, home repairs and maintenance, and utilities. It can be a hard leap to take alone, which is why some people choose to buy a home with someone else.

Here are just a few examples of people who came together to buy a house:

  • Two young couples, all just starting careers, agreed to share a three-bedroom, two bathroom house.
  • Two single moms paired up to share not only the costs and responsibilities of homeownership, but also childcare and meals.
  • Two friends became co-owners shortly after one bought a home on her own and then lost her job. Rather than risk foreclosure, she asked her friend to move in with her and take over the mortgage payments in exchange for a share of ownership that would increase over time.
  • Two brothers and a friend realized they could save a lot by moving out of their apartments and buying a small three-bedroom house together. One brother couldn't afford much of a down payment, but made up for it by doing work on the house.
  • Four unrelated older adults bought a house together to cut their expenses, share household responsibilities, reduce their living space, and create a supportive community while they age.
  • A woman and her parents bought a house for the daughter to live in; the parents made the down payment and their daughter pays the mortgage and other expenses.

Buying a house is a big decision; sharing ownership of a house with someone else brings additional considerations into play, including how you will own and finance the house, share the space, and handle expenses. Some factors to consider include:

  • How much personal space do you need? Do you want your own unit?
  • Would you prefer to form a new shared housing arrangement or join an existing one?
  • Will you move into existing structures, retrofit to accommodate shared housing, or build new housing?
  • Do you want to create a community of people with shared interests or needs, such as senior housing?

The Rate Your Housing Priorities Worksheet  included here will help you identify the issues most important to you. You can share this worksheet with the people you plan to live with. It can help you get to know each other, determine your compatibility, and choose a housing arrangement.

Once you do become co-owners of a house, be sure to put your agreement in writing, as explained in the article Preparing a  Co-Ownership or TIC Agreement included in this section.

Worksheet: Rate Your Housing Priorities

Rate each of the following priorities by circling a number
(1 = least important; 5 = most important).

The Space:

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to have my own unit.

1  2  3  4  5   I would prefer my own bathroom.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to have a large kitchen.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like access to a yard.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to be able to garden.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to on-site laundry facilities.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like on-site laundry facilities.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like on-site parking.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like a large storage space.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like other amenities, such as (a hot tub, swimming pool, etc.) ____________.

Material Needs and Long Range Plans:

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to own my residence and build equity.

1  2  3  4  5   I prefer to rent my residence.

1  2  3  4  5   I hope to save money from this arrangement.

1  2  3  4  5   I am looking for a place that I can live in for a long time.

1  2  3  4  5   I am looking for a short-term arrangement.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to share furnishings.

Furnishings I own and could share include: _________________
_________________________________________________

Furnishings I need or would like to have include: ____________
_________________________________________________

Home Environment, People, and Lifestyle:

1  2  3  4  5   I want to live in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

1  2  3  4  5   I want to feel free to have social events where I live.

1  2  3  4  5   I want to live in a nonsmoking home.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to have some rules about drug and alcohol use.

1  2  3  4  5   I want to be able to have overnight guests.

1  2  3  4  5   I would like a quiet space (or quiet times).

1  2  3  4  5   I need space to practice trumpet (or other loud activity).

1  2  3  4  5   I want to share housing with someone who can help care for my child/pet.

1  2  3  4  5   I am open to caring for others and/or their children and pets.

1  2  3  4  5   I hope to feel a sense of community with people I live with.

1  2  3  4  5   I want to live with like-minded people. This means:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to do activities with my cosharers, such as:
_________________________________________________
_________________________________________________

1  2  3  4  5   I would like to do mealsharing and collective food buying.

Other wants and needs: ____________________________________
______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________

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