It's becoming more and more common for buyers to be buying or looking for a home with other family members. Quite often it may be a couple and one of their parents. Sometimes it is for financial reasons that they have decided to pool resources and buy a home. Sometimes it may be that the older generation is going to provide childcare for the younger generation. Maybe you want your parents close by so you can care for them. Or, perhaps it's a cultural tradition.
Whatever the reason, there are some issues to consider if you are thinking of buying a home with other family members. Here are some things you should think about up front. I use the term parents in this list - but this would apply to any relative or friend with whom you may want to buy a house.
- Will all of you be pooling resources to buy the house together? Will you and your parents (or other family members) be on the mortgage together? If so, talk to your loan officer to see if/how this impacts the preapproval. The credit score for each buyer will impact the preapproval.
- If you buy the house together, consider how to hold title to the house and make sure to do some estate planning. If something were to happen to a parent who may own the house with you, would their interest in the house go to you or would she want it to go to someone else? If something were to happen to you, would your spouse be okay owning the house jointly with your parents? It’s something you want to consider and discuss up front with your entire family. Talk to an attorney to figure out the options up front and put it all in writing.
- Do your parents already own a house? Will they need to sell it before you can buy a new house?
- On the other hand, if you and/or you and your spouse are buying the house and your parents are going to live with you, will they pay rent? How much? Or will they be providing a service such as child care that will offset any rent?
- Will your parents have a say in what type of house you buy?
- What type of living arrangement do you want? A two-family house? A single-family house with an in-law apartment? Or just a traditional single family house where you’d share living space? Or even a three-bedroom condo with shared space?
- If living in a traditional single family home, what size and/or layout do you think you’d need if Linda was living with you? Do you each need your own space?
- Do you each have a car? If so, you’d need enough parking for 3 cars.
- Talk about chores/who does what around the house. How will you split chores, maintenance costs, how to split utility costs, groceries, etc.
- If your parents are going to be providing child care, discuss when and how often. Maybe they're willing to watch the kids a few days per week while you are at work but don't expect them to babysit every Friday night when you go out for date night - at least not without asking first. Set up limits and expectations up front.
By geting these issues resolved up front, you can have a more focused and productive home search. More importantly, you can prevent problems with family members later on if everything is discussed up front and out in the open.
Living with an older generation opens up wonderful opportunities for parents, children and grandparents. Preparing for the issues you may encounter will help everything run more smoothly.
Are you looking for a home in the Canton MA area? Whether it's just you or multi-generational members of your family, your Canton MA Buyer Broker can help you find the right home for you.
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Christine Smith is an Attorney and Exclusive Buyer Agent with over 25 years of experience in the real estate field.
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