Buying a home with a friend is something you should carefully consider – it means you’re financially committing yourself to each other, so you need to think of what you’ll do if things go wrong. Beaumont Legal has won First Time Buyer’s Best Law Firm for Conveyancing award for the past three years and here their Director of Conveyancing – Adele Barker – explains the things you should think about
Five questions to agree together before you buy
It’s worth asking each other a series of questions before you decide to buy together – if you find you can’t agree on them, you should think seriously about whether it’s the right thing to do and, if you can agree, then you’ll avoid potential stress later on.
How long do you intend to live together and what if one wants to sell sooner?
How long do you see yourselves living in this property, and what do you hope you’ll be doing with your life then? What if your job relocates and you want to buy a property somewhere else in the country? It doesn’t need to be complicated, but if you just agree some basics, like how much notice period you’ll give each other, it will help.
What if your relationship status changes?
If you’re both single, what would you like to happen if one of you finds someone special? If you’re an item, what if you fall out? You might think you’re never going to fall out, but if your relationship’s strong enough, you should still be able to discuss it.
What if one of you becomes unable to pay the mortgage?
The harsh truth is that one of you could lose your job, or become incapacitated, so you can’t earn a living. Buying together with a mortgage, you’re both liable for payments, so you could agree to take out some kind of insurance for this, or a plan of what you’ll do together.
How will you pay for repairs or improvements to the home?
Is one of you better at saving than the other – should you set up a monthly kitty you both pay into? If changes need to be made to the property, like a new kitchen, how will you decide whether you go for the budget or high-end option? This will often be harder to agree if you’re on very different incomes.
Do you both want to own the property as Joint Tenants, or Tenants in Common?
You have to legally own the property in one of these two ways. If you own as Joint Tenants, you own the property equally and if one of you dies, the other person inherits the whole property. If you own a property as Tenants in Common, you can own it in unequal shares (eg 70/30) and if one of you dies, their share will be inherited in line with their will. If they have no will, then the laws of intestacy will apply, meaning their share goes to their relatives.
Five things to do for yourself
Once you’ve agreed on the points above, there are some key things you can do to make sure things happen the way YOU want.
Decide whether you do want to be tied together financially
Some say that buying a house together is a tougher partnership to get out of than getting married, so it should be treated seriously. You will be tied to this person, so their credit rating affects yours and if they lose their job, or become incapacitated and can’t pay their share of the mortgage, you’ll be equally liable.
Decide what you will do WHEN things change
Change happens. If you’re two single friends buying together, one of you might find someone and want to move out, or share the property with them. Or one of you might want to leave and rent out your room. Agreeing what you’ll do, in advance, can make things much easier later on.
Draw up a Declaration of Trust
This should be done by a solicitor acting on your behalf, to ensure it reflects what you both agree and any obligations in relation to the property.
Draw up a Will
Sad as it may be, you also need to consider what happens if one of you dies. If you’re not married you could find that your friend’s or partner’s share is inherited by a relative who simply wants to sell, so you should both consider drawing up a will to avoid this.
Choose a good solicitor who can cover all your needs
You could choose two different legal firms – one to do the legal process for buying your home and another for your will and declaration of trust – but it’s much simpler if you can choose one that is able to do all these under one roof, making a stressful process much simpler.
Beaumont Legal is one of the UK’s largest providers of conveyancing and winner of First Time Buyer’s award for Best Law Firm for Conveyancing in 2013, 2014 and 2015. For information on the services it provides, visit Beaumont-legal.co.uk, call its new business team on 0345 122 8080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org