Pearly’s New Pad – Let’s Do It Together

Should we buy a house together

So, I’ve rested and boy did I need it. Last week it wasn’t easy getting Mallory to tame her emotions and think about this whole house thing logically.  Logic is what humans are supposed to be good at, right?

Should we buy a house together

I knew something else was fishy on Tuesday when she walked into the house; she was just so excited, and really, who gets excited about going through their financial records? She had been over at Adam’s so he could help her organize her business and personal financials; turns out that Adam mentioned he might want to buy the house with her.  Well, I don’t have to tell you, Mallory was thrilled. (Humans, what are you going to do?)  Really bad idea. I like Adam, but that’s swimming in troubled waters. I knew what I had to do was nudge her away from that idea without damaging her perception of their relationship.  Water under the bridge now but let me tell you, figuring out how to do that cost me some sleepless circles.

Not that Adam isn’t good financially, he went to the Air Force Academy so he doesn’t have student loan debt (we do) and when he’s deployed a lot of his salary is saved, but the possible legal and tax complications for taking out joint debt?  The issues if the relationship doesn’t work out?  We could get into hot water really fast.

In my experience my human just isn’t good at taking the emotion out of problems so I had carefully considered my approaches.  Deep diving into the issue, I decided to try the “maybe she’ll figure it out herself if I give her the right information approach” first.  I got her to read about Tenants in Common and Joint Tenant Titles. With a Joint Title you own the property equally and each of you have the rights to the entire property.  I figured that she might catch the idea that if she and Adam eventually went their separate ways he would have as much right to live in all of the house as she would; that didn’t work. She’s in that stage where she’s sure that they’re not going their separate ways. (Left some statistics on her desk about couples breaking up and divorce but that didn’t make a ripple.)

And, with joint tenants if one dies (knock on petrified wood) the other person automatically gets their share of the house. Adam has siblings to think about and Mallory’s parents are going to give her some of the down payment money so that provision probably isn’t going to wash.  Mallory’s parents like Adam but I’m not sure they would be happy about having helped buy his house. That part at least made her pause, so I figured we’d just keep tightening the net. Like, what if he got transferred to another base?  Is he going to keep half a house that he can’t use? Can he afford to keep half a house when he has to pay for lodging somewhere else?  (She has to stay here to keep building the business, it’s not easy making a name for yourself in marketing in the music scene and local reputations aren’t built quickly.)   Could he sell his half to someone else?  Since the “figure it out herself” wasn’t working we had to have some pretty difficult conversations, I would have sweat through them if I sweat.

Then she was sure that titling the house as “tenants in common” would solve the problem.  With that title she could specify in her will (seeing legal bills mounting here, that’s an estate planning lawyer added to the budget) that her percentage of the house would go to her parents. Okay, that took care of one part of the issue.  But Adam would probably specify that his share of the house went to his parents.  So would his parents want half a house 2000 miles from where they live?  If they sold their share to Mallory would they be able to agree on a price?  Would they continue to pay half of the mortgage while everything was being worked out? Could they afford to pay that?  We spent a lot of time going back and forth on that one; one of the few times that I regretted my ancestors agreed to live with humans in exchange for free food and no predators. 

Some home buying decisions are easier than others. Should you have joint debt? Click To Tweet

The dear girl even actually believed that it would be simple to just split expenses for the house. (Like I need more things to keep track of, you know goldfish can go grey too!)  I really wanted to avoid the deep water here so I started with simple questions. What if it snows 2 feet, you have to get to a gig and Adam is travelling?  If we hire someone to plow the driveway is that our expense, his expense or a split expense?   If he was here he’d just dig it out himself, so is he going to understand why we just spent money to have someone else do it?  The same goes for simple household repairs; even though I’ve tried to walk her through some of them Mallory just shouldn’t be trusted fixing anything. (Including the stand that holds my aquarium but that’s a separate story and I’m probably still too traumatized to tell it.)

Luckily we didn’t have to get into the really tough stuff, like what if Adam decides to build a garage you don’t want for his truck?  Or worse, what if he decided to just stop paying his half of the mortgage?  Or what if they split up and both of them wanted to stay in the house. Those would have been almost impossible for her to understand because she just doesn’t believe a breakup would happen right now (Frankly I don’t think so either, but stranger things have happened in the human world.) Glad we didn’t have to swim in those waters.

She finally decided that, with his military career, things were just too unsettled to try the “let’s buy it together” idea.  Whew……  now maybe we can get back to finding a Mortgage human who knows what they’re doing.   Hope to have some progress to report on that next week.   Pearly

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16 thoughts on “Pearly’s New Pad – Let’s Do It Together”

  1. Ughhhhh, I feel you… younger humans these days… don’t quite see the bigger picture. My youngest human is going off to college this year and deciding on her options.. and not seeing the bigger picture. Hopefully you were able to set her straight.

    As for me and my honey… we have separate accounts for now… and I kind of like that, right now… he has the mortgage, I have all of the home bills… sure, he has the loan and can write off the interest and such, but he has a lot of overtime that the dear old government over taxes, big time… so he needs it a little more… than me with my own biz and very little overhead but can legally find enough to write off so I am not paying an arm and a leg… maybe after all of our kids are done and gone.. no more child support coming in or going out and all the ex drama.. etc… we may find a different financial situation…but for now, this works.

  2. I’ve seen the result of your warnings in person with a neighbor of ours. Her daughter had the fiance, the house, the dog….and the fiance cheated. Now they have a house together and joint custody of the dog! It got very complicated very quickly!
    Great advice from Pearly. I love following her adventures!

    1. Anne, I am sorry to hear that it turned out poorly for your neighbor’s daughter. Sadly, this happens in many cases. It sounds like they worked things out, but many don’t think through all of the details. Like who will pay the mortgage? What happens if the responsible party doesn’t pay the mortgage? What if they do pay and then the other party wants to buy in the future, will I be able to get the necessary documentation to be able to purchase a home? Should a refinance be required? If so, when? What about transferring title? What about joint bank accounts that were opened to handle paying debts or purchasing the home? What about splitting equity now or in the future? these are complicated questions that aren’t often easy to answer or even bring up for discussion when things get heated and emotional. Christy

  3. This is excellent advice from Pearl. I know quite a handful of people going through a similar situation and her guidance in this article will certainly help them very much. I love following her adventures.

    1. Thank you Apolline. A little early planning for how things need to be handled if all goes well and if all does not can prevent a lot. Like the old saying goes “an ounce of prevent is worth a pound of cure”.

  4. Wish I had the benefit of Pearly’s wisdom to pass onto my son when he bought with a mate. Things went very badly for him and he’s still feeling the repercussions. Thank you, Pearly, for offering such sound advice.

  5. When I was considering buying a condo for my daughter and her friend, (who was going to put in half of the down payment), people warned me not to partner with someone who wasn’t a family member. Thankfully we didn’t go through with the deal and I benefitted from assigning it because I was the person who put down the deposit. I know a lot of people do well partnering in properties, so thanks for your insights on why it isn’t necessarily a good idea, Christy! And Pearly too!

    1. Beverly, it sometimes goes very well. Thoughtful planning on the front end is really the first step. Sounds like you had that and made a great decision even though you decided on just partnering with family. Christy

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