For some buyers, purchasing a home independently may be out of reach. Co-buying is an alternative approach to homeownership where two or more individuals purchase the property together and take on a joint mortgage. Get to know the benefits and drawbacks of co-buying before deciding whether it’s right for you.
How Does Co-Buying Work?
Just like a traditional home purchase, lenders use the buyers’ debt-to-income ratios and credit scores to determine their mortgage eligibility and formulate the terms of their loan. The lender will use the lowest median credit score to determine whether the co-buyers qualify. Before you purchase with a co-buyer, work with a real estate attorney to flesh out the details of the agreement including the distribution of shares, the responsibility of each party for the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments, and the home’s title. There are two main options for taking title to a home with a co-buyer.
Tenancy in Common (TIC)
- When co-buyers hold a title as tenants in common, shares of the property can be divided equally or unequally. You and a co-buyer can decide to split ownership to reflect the amount invested. However, even if these amounts are unequal, no one individual may claim sole ownership of the property. If a co-buyer dies, their ownership passes along to their designated heir. With Tenancy in Common, a co-owner may sell their shares of the property at any time, without the need for approval from other co-owners.
- Joint Tenancy—or Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)—requires that all co-buyers hold an equal interest in the property and that they all come into ownership through the same title at the same time. If one co-owner dies, ownership passes to the other co-owner—this is known as Right of Survivorship. Unlike Tenancy in Common, co-owners must receive approval before selling any property shares.
Pros and Cons of Co-Buying
Pros of Co-Buying
For those who don’t have the buying power to purchase a home on their own, co-buying presents an opportunity to combine assets and enter the market. Since lenders will be factoring in both of your incomes, you and your co-buyer will increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage and securing a low interest rate. Both of you will build equity over time as you pay back your joint mortgage. Even after the down payment and mortgage payments, there are a handful of costs that come with being a homeowner. Co-buying allows you to split these costs, saving money on bills, utilities, maintenance costs, and the like.
Cons of Co-Buying
Co-buying a home means you are relinquishing some control over the homeownership costs. At the end of the day, you can’t control your co-buyer’s finances. If a sudden life change leaves them financially unstable, the burden will fall on your shoulders, and you’ll have to make up the difference. Similarly, your credit score could take a hit if your co-buyer is unable to make their mortgage payments, even if you’ve consistently made yours.
Before entering a co-buying agreement, it’s important that you and your co-buyer are on the same page about the terms of ownership and your expectations as joint homeowners. Working closely together will help maintain the health of your finances, and most importantly, your relationship.