How to co-buy a home with your friend in Canada's expensive market

When Georgie Aitken and Magda Dominik’s son, Walker, was born in September 2013, they dreamed of having a backyard and more space for him to play in. The 36-year-old leadership consultants were renting the third floor of a 110-year-old house in Vancouver for $1,700 a month.They wanted to buy and were considering spending $600,000 on a home, not an outrageous amount considering that the average price of houses in Vancouver is projected to hit $811,000 at the end of this year. But it is a daunting amount.

“To buy something in our price range would’ve made us house poor,” Mr. Aitken says. “We could’ve afforded a fixer upper but it would have compromised the rest of our lifestyle.”

Instead, the family joined forces with another couple who also had a young child and together in July, they bought a 2,700-square-foot, two-level home in North Vancouver. Located across the street from a wooded park and three minutes from the ocean beach, the home cost about $970,000.

As housing costs rise, many first-time homebuyers are being priced out of the market and unable to save the huge down payment or even qualify for a mortgage. So more people are resorting to other ways to achieve their home-buying goals, including co-buying with friends or family.

Mr. Aitken and Ms. Dominik live upstairs while their good friends, Joe MacLeod, Margaret Shipley and their one-year-old son Levi, live downstairs. Each level has three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. The week that they moved in, Walker, took his first steps and can now explore a beautiful backyard hugged by towering Maple, Cedar and Alder trees.

To buy something in our price range would’ve made us house poor
“We give each other date nights with cheap in-house baby sitting,” Mr. Aitken says. “We just had a big canning session here with us canning tomatoes for the winter.”

The families opted for a mixer mortgage through VanCity credit union; mixer mortgages can be split into separate terms (fixed and variable terms, different amortizations, etc.). “It was born out of necessity,” says Ryan McKinley, VanCity’s senior mortgage development manager. “People have always been able to purchase properties together; but we found there wasn’t a good process for people to co-own responsibly.”
BEN NELMS for Financial PostJoe MacLeod, Margo Shipley and their son Levi (R) are pictured with Georgie Aitken, Magda Dominik and son, Walker at their home in Deep Cove, B.C.

Mr. Aitken says that people deciding to co-buy together need to treat it like a business deal.
“We have a partnership agreement that covers all of the other contingencies: What if we get sick of living with each other? What if a tree falls on the roof?” he says. “Ours is detailed to the point where we have two levels of mediation planned.”

Why You Should Move in the winter
◦Moving in the winter can save you money when hiring a moving company. Most household moving companies have cheaper rates compared to the peak moving months (May to September).
◦Movers are more flexible with dates in the winter. You may not need to give as much notice.
◦Weather permitting, travel can be quicker due to the lack of cars and construction on the roads.
◦There are less homes on the market during the winter and sellers often are eager to move from their residences.
◦There can be fewer buyers during the winter because more people prefer to move in the warmer months.
◦Due to a decrease in volume during the winter, mortgage lenders usually have fewer loans and less paperwork to process.
◦Due to the slower market, real estate professionals have more time to devote to your search for a new home.
◦Lenders may forgo certain fees to stay busy in the off-season.
◦Because landlords want to fill vacant apartments and homes in the winter, they are more likely to entice you to move with bonus offers, lower rent or a smaller deposit.

To learn more about how to organize a winter move and how to make your move as easy and stress-free as it can possibly be, contact BC Alberta Movers for a free moving quote. Don’t allow the thought of bad weather to interfere with making the right move!