If you're looking to buy a home but aren't married or don't have a partner to share in that expense, a sibling may seem like your next best bet. But is buying a home with a sibling a good idea -- or a recipe for disaster?
Advantages of buying property with a sibling
Knowing what you're getting into
If you're going to buy a home with someone else to actually live in yourselves, there's possibly no better roommate than a sibling. After all, you've shared a roof before, you already know each other well, and there shouldn't be any major surprises.
Affording a better home
Another benefit of buying a home with a sibling? You can pool your financial resources to buy a better property than what you'd each manage to swing individually. Maybe you and your sibling can each afford a $150,000 home. But if you combine resources, that suddenly buys you a $300,000 home, which could mean better amenities, additional upgrades, and a more desirable zip code.
Sharing maintenance responsibilities
Finally, if you buy a home with a sibling, you can split the maintenance involved, whether that means each of you mows the lawn every other weekend or you paint the deck once a season while your sibling repaints the fence. If you buy a home on your own, its upkeep will all be on you -- from both a logistical and financial perspective.
Drawbacks of buying property with a sibling
Too much togetherness
On the other hand, buying a home with a sibling could backfire -- namely, because you may get on each other's nerves, at which point you'll have the opposite of a harmonious living situation. Granted, that could happen with any roommate or person you're close with, but it's a risk to consider nonetheless.
Changes in personal circumstances
Furthermore, if you buy a home with a sibling, you may get stuck in a tough spot if one of you needs to sell or someone's personal circumstances change. For example, what if your sibling gets married and needs to move out? What will happen then? Will you buy him or her out? Will that sibling insist on staying in the home, thereby forcing you to move out? Of course, these are questions you should answer in advance, but even if you do, that's very different than actually having to grapple with those scenarios in real life.
Finally, you and your sibling will need to agree on big decisions with regard to your property, and that could be a source of tension. What if you want to finish your basement so you can rent it out, but your sibling doesn't want to deal with a tenant? What if you decide you really want to redo your kitchen, but you and your sibling have different styles and preferences?
When you own a home solo, you get to make these choices yourself, but if you own property with a sibling, you need his or her consent to rent out part of your home or renovate. Again, this is an issue you'll encounter whenever you buy property jointly with another person -- it's not sibling-specific per se. But it's something to keep on your radar.
What's the right choice for you?
If you're going to buy a home with a sibling, you'll need to make sure your personalities are such that you won't clash on financial decisions or matters of everyday living. Additionally, though you might trust your sibling more than anyone, it still doesn't hurt to make certain he or she is financially sound before taking on the responsibility of a home together. Ask to see your sibling's credit report, and offer yours up as well so you're both comfortable entering that arrangement.
At the same time, set clear, honest expectations. Maybe your goal is to buy a house together but sell it in a few years and purchase a home of your own. That's all fine and good if you say so from the get-go, but if you don't, there could be some hard feelings down the road -- and the last thing you want to do is compromise your relationship with a close family member.
Ultimately, buying a home with a sibling could work out very well for both of you. But definitely think things through before diving in. And if you're really conflicted, it wouldn't hurt to enlist the opinion of the people who know both of you best -- your parents.
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