Top 10 Myths about CoBuying a Home
Every month we interact with hundreds of past, present and future cobuyers, their friends and families who are interested in cobuying. The questions and reactions we get vary wildly–from 100% positive to downright skeptical.
This is often the case when a company emerges to introduce a new product to the marketplace. We can only imagine the questions Uber, Airbnb and Getaround were getting in the early days.
In order to address the questions all at once, we’re taking to the blog to bust the top 10 myths about CoBuy and co-buying.
But, before we do that, let’s define what we mean by “CoBuy”.
Word Origin ~ early stage Seattle-based startup by the same name
- the act of pooling resources to purchase a home or piece of real estate with others beyond a spouse. This often refers to friends, family member or loved ones, and can include a married couple buying with others.
- A purchase of real estate by two or more people who are not all married to one another.
Myth #1: CoBuying is new
CoBuying is not “new”. Co-buying has been happening for eons. Since the beginning of recorded time, people have been pooling their resources for the purposes of maximizing advantages or minimizing costs to the group. In other words people want to live better, together.
What is relatively new, however, is a company dedicated to helping people intelligently pool their resources to CoBuy and co-own property. CoBuying is becoming intentional.
So, why do so many people think co-buying is new?
The answer is partly due to American culture post-WWII. During this time, suburban life came into vogue with a vision of the American dream taking root comprised mostly of single-family homeownership. For decades, governmental policy and urban planning prioritized this vision of America.
America’s current social, economic and ecological forces are dynamic. People are increasingly moving to major metropolitan areas where the job centers are. Necessity, coupled with a desire for community, plus new definitions of “family,” all make cobuying a compelling alternative in the traditional rent vs. buy decision matrix.
Just last year nearly 1 in 5 homes purchased in the U.S. were “co-buys” defined as “multiple, non-married buyers listed on the sales deed”.
Myth #2: It is dangerous
When people first hear about CoBuy, they often think: “I’d never buy a home with someone I’m not related to. That’s just crazy and dangerous.”
There is some truth to this myth. Co-ownership does carry with it additional complexities and risks compared to individual home ownership. However, this added risk largely applies when you co-buy “in the wild” without the support and guidance of experienced professionals whose mission it is to help save you money and protect you from risk.
When people say it’s dangerous, they are usually thinking about the many “What if…” scenarios. Like, “What if someone wants to move?” or “What if someone loses their job?” or “What if someone wants to paint the walls a color I don’t like?”
The good news: there is usually a solution available to shield your group from the risks inherent in co-ownership. If your group isn’t aware of the risks and doesn’t put a plan in place, co-buying can indeed be pretty dangerous. The key is to talk through these risks with your group and to get a written plan in place to prepare for the risks of co-ownership.
Luckily, we are specialists in the CoBuy process and work with our groups to make sure that all the big “unknowns” are removed from the equation.
Myth #3: I could be stuck with my co-buyer forever!
People often fear that if they CoBuy with a friend or love interest, they will be stuck with them for the length of the mortgage, usually 15 to 30 years.
In reality, most co-buyers we work with go into the process with an “exit” strategy in place. For most, co-buying is actually a “fixed-term” play, meaning the co-owners expect to be in the arrangement for a finite amount of time.
The reasons for this vary, but for some, co-ownership can be a great way to save for one’s own home someday. For others, it’s about being able to live in an ideal location or in otherwise unachievable circumstances. For yet others, it just makes sense to own a property in community without fully burdening themselves with the expense and exposure, even if they have the financial ability to do so.
CoBuy helps you create an exit plan from the start so you leave no questions unanswered when the time for an exit comes, intended or not, under an array of “What if…” scenarios.
Myth #4: You don’t need help
We often hear this myth from co-buyers who are buying with their family or significant other.
“We already talk about everything”, they reason, “so we don’t really need help. Plus, we have a good friend that’s a real estate agent.”
Even the best of family relationships have unanticipated situations. One example is the emergence of new significant others. There are often differing views on what constitutes a reasonable length of time for a guest’s stay. Other more significant issues related to “what if’s…” such as death, disability, divorce, job loss, legal problems are additional risks. Life happens, family or not.
CoBuying “in the wild” is fraught with hidden pitfalls and pain points that are difficult to anticipate. There are a multitude of complexities when it comes to co-buying and even more in co-ownership, the result of co-buying. Even if you were to spend months studying everything about co-buying, you’d still need help. As a member of the co-buy group, you are not in the best position to ask and answer the questions that determine how well-suited your group is to buy and own together. Sometimes a neutral third-party is the best solution to help you determine if you’re ready to proceed.
By the very nature of the transaction, many of your needs will fall within the domain of a regulated professional. Unless you can serve as your own lender, broker, lawyer, CPA, title & escrow company and insurance agent, you’ll certainly need someone’s help. The better question is, who will you choose for these critical roles?
“As participation in the sharing economy explodes across the world, more and more people are realizing the benefits of sharing. Co-buying is happening at all ages and all income levels, and in all areas of the country and world.”
Tim Hedberg, Head of Marketing at CoBuy
Myth #5: Any real estate agent and lender can help you
On the other side of the spectrum are the people who know they need help but think anyone in the real estate field can give them the help they need. This is one of the most dangerous myths. The team you select is one of the most crucial elements of your co-buy.
If you needed surgery, you’d want the best surgeon, not your buddy who happens to work in medicine. Nothing against your buddy, but you want to work with specialists who are intimately familiar with the complexities of a CoBuy.
You want pros who are looking to help you:
- simplify the process of buying and owning with others
- reduce your time and cost
- protect you, your assets and your relationships
Myth #6: Finding a good real estate attorney to guide you through the process is easy
As in any profession, there are a range of skills which are hard to assess from the outside. Going to Yelp or Google and searching for the right attorney can be perilous.
Moreover, people typically engage attorneys to create a legal document. Most attorneys do not guide the purchase and co-ownership process. An attorney’s involvement to guide the process to purchase and co-own is likely to be costly unless they are also a real estate broker.
When you work with CoBuy we’ll team you with a CoBuy-certified™ attorney who is familiar with the CoBuy agreement. You select the elements of your operating agreement first. Then, CoBuy connects you to an attorney who reviews, edits and advises regarding the final document. This provides you with a legal agreement that reflects your interests. It also contains the cost of the visit with your attorney.
Myth #7: It’s all about the legal agreement
Simply creating a “legal agreement” is like giving someone a 2000 era cell phone without connecting it to a service provider. It’s basically useless unless they just want to play snake. It certainly won’t perform its highest most valuable function.
The same is the case for legal agreements. Without going through the CoBuy process, the contract may not serve its intended purpose. It’s just a shell.
Moreover, just thinking about the “legal agreement” leaves a lot on the table. CoBuying involves a lot more than just getting legal protection.
Our aim is to guide co-buyers through the entire process. We want co-buyers to feel protected and their relationships to stay intact.
Myth #8: There are no homes appropriate for co-buyers
It is certainly true that when you CoBuy a home, you’ll likely want to find a home that matches your groups’ specific needs. Depending on your local market and your group’s flexibility, the challenge level can vary.
In any case, you’ll want a home that’s CoBuy-suitable™. A CoBuy-suitable™ home is configured or designed for cohabitation. Lucky for you, there are many great homes on the market for groups. From larger single family homes, to homes that boast a “mother-in-law” unit, to duplexes, triplexes and more. The trick is knowing how to find them. That’s one reason why we enlist CoBuy-certified™ real estate agents to help you search and transact. It’s also why we developed the CoBuy-suitable™ listing page to enable our co-buyers to more easily identify their dream home.
Myth #9: CoBuying is only for people who can’t afford their own home
This is certainly not the case. As the sharing economy explodes across the world, people are realizing the economic and social benefits of sharing. Co-buying is happening at all ages and all income levels, and in most areas of the country and the world.
The reason why most people co-buying is for some combination of both social and economic considerations.
Many people want to CoBuy for social reasons. Families, romantic partners, friends, communities and more, all choose to CoBuy not because they “can’t” afford a home on their own, but because they find huge benefits to living together, whether that’s to treat loneliness or simply to be closer to your loved one. The former surgeon general has even gone so far as to say that we are facing “loneliness epidemic” in America. CoBuying is a compelling antidote.
Others choose to CoBuy for financial reasons. They want to take advantage of economies of scale and live in a bigger house than they otherwise could or perhaps they want to live in a more desirable area close to work. Perhaps their fellow co-buyer has a needed skill-set allowing them to share capabilities to their mutual advantage.
Lastly, we find many co-buyers getting together for ecological motivations. By living together, co-buyers can reduce their impact on the planet, save resources, and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Myth #10: Co-buying is just for intentional communities and communes
While co-buying is certainly popular for people that value intentional communities, we’ve found that EVERYONE is co-buying. There is no one group or “kind of person” that holds a monopoly on co-buying. We see unmarried couples, groups of friends, multi-generational households, investors, and yes, intentional communities of various kinds all pooling their resource to live better together.
But hey, we’re not in the business of judging why co-buyers want to co-buy. We’re in the business of improving access to home-ownership by making CoBuying simple, cost-effective, and secure for all.
CoBuy does not charge consumers for its service. A CoBuy-certified™ real estate broker shares a portion of their commission with CoBuy.
If you are thinking about buying a home with others, visit CoBuy and open an account.
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