Co-Owning Property and Affordable Housing

With the prices of Comox Valley real estate and changes to the minimum requirement for deposits on homes, people are looking for creative solutions to find affordable housing. One option is co-owning property which, like all financial decisions should be weighed carefully. There are some definite advantages and disadvantages to using this strategy of becoming a homeowner. Shared ventures can be very successful, but there are also outcomes less than ideal that are worth considering before you make that decision. While having a positive attitude is important, being realistic about the challenges is equally valuable. Here are some tips to help you interview potential co-owners to make sure that all property co-owners would experience the benefits of owning a home.


Due Diligence First: If you're considering co-owning property, do your due diligence before you begin exploring any opportunities. With so many great properties available, it's easy to get excited by the potential of a home, especially if it meets all your criteria. Your desire to own a particular property could bias your decision of which partner to bring in, believing that you will be able to work through the differences later. Making the decision to co-own property based on your need of their resources, or because a property is likely to sell can lead to hasty decisions you may regret.


Comparing Lifestyle: Co-owning property involves shared planning, shared financial outcomes, as well as shared rights and responsibilities. Communication is key to make sure that everyone is on the same page. When you're interviewing potential home-owning partners, talk through a list of "what ifs" to make sure everyone's concerns are discussed along with an agreed plan of how to resolve issues that come up. Who will be living in the home? Will both owners be living there or just one? If co-owning a property also means sharing a living space, you will have to do some lifestyle comparisons to see if the match is truly compatible. Here are some hypothetical situations to consider:

  • What happens if one owner really enjoys socializing and entertaining while the other prefers peace and quiet?
  • What if one owner loves taking on big projects that take up considerable space in a shared workshop?
  • Maybe one owner really values having a tidy landscaped yard, but the other owner doesn't place a high value on the effort that goes into maintaining it.
  • What if the once single owner wants to invite their new partner to live with them... and they have a parrot!

You can see how easy it would be to add to this list, and how tensions could develop. If you plan to share the space, it's imperative to talk through lifestyle comparisons and to have a plan to work through differences.


Delegate Responsibilities: If the home you buy together is going to maintain or hopefully increase in value, regular home maintenance is a must. Buying a home together can mean affordable housing and affordable repairs. It's easy to breeze through the advantages of everything going well, but it's also worth your time to talk through the responsibilities as well. Even if all owners aren't living in the home, the maintenance should be a priority for all owners. One approach is to make a list of maintenance tasks in categories of frequency, and then talk about who will be responsible for ensuring they're completed. Include a plan to schedule time to talk about home maintenance issues every few months to make sure repairs are addressed in a timely manner. Having a regular time to talk about repairs can ensure that differences are worked through before they become conflicts.


Planning for the Future: Co-owning property means that both parties are responsible for the financial commitment and the consequences. We've mentioned a few points about choosing a compatible partner and maintaining a property, but what about the financial aspect? You should discuss long and short-term goals as well such as:

  • How will the mortgage debt be serviced? Will you share the cost of each mortgage payment, each make a bi-weekly payment, or alternate monthly payments?
  • How are repairs and maintenance going to be paid for?
  • Who pays for insurance and what coverage is best?
  • What if individual employment or health situations change?
  • How long do you plan to own the home?
  • What if only one party wants to sell?
  • How will each owner access the equity if they want to buy a different home?

Whatever you decide, it's vitally important to write down what you agree to and draw up a legally binding contract. That way, all parties have a signed document to refer to in case of disputes or conflict.


The Comox Valley is a dream location for many, and what would be better than sharing that adventure with friends or family? If you're thinking about co-owning property as an option toward affordable housing, you can't afford not to do your homework. If you can check due diligence off your list and are ready to look at listings, we're ready to get started! Give us a call!