Home Hungry: Why Not Co-Own a Home with a Co-Stranger?

Not unlike speed dating, the goal of a recent Toronto meet and greet was to discover a soul mate. Only the objective here was to find a soul mate with whom to buy a house. For many living in expensive urban centres, it might be the only way they’ll ever become homeowners.

Co-ownership of property has been around for years. However, with the housing price increases in some areas of the country, it appears to present a viable solution to home-hungry Canadians, particularly millennial wannabe-homeowners used to sharing.

That’s because you and your co-owner will jointly own a property purchased together. And you may or may not be friends or even acquaintances; these days many are looking to go halvsies with complete strangers.

At the Toronto meeting, a number of wishful homeowners “speed-interviewed” each other, hoping to find a compatible stranger. But even if the homeowner vibe is right, don’t go blindly into mutual homeownership without knowing the risks. As real estate lawyer Lauren Blumas told the CBC, it’s important that co-purchasers sign a legally binding agreement before they buy.

This agreement should detail the percentage of the property each individual owns, as well as the responsibility each has for maintenance and repairs. Also necessary is a resolution mechanism in case the co-owners decide to go their separate ways.

Says Blumas: “(The agreement) would … force you to sit down and think about how you want to structure your arrangement and then formalize it.”

Not to mention to decide if it’s worth the risk.