Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I read an interesting article over at The Tyee (originally published 1/11/06) about three couples who bought a property together.

They speak of the legal agreements arrived at regarding joint ownership, and the financing with "so many names on the title". It turns out that VanCity was the only one who would finance them.

The property is three rowhouses on two city lots, and each couple has their own "townhouse". Their idea seems to be more about community than affordability, but it is an interesting vision towards where this town might go. It seems to me to be an interesting way towards densification, although these are pre-existing homes.

Here is the closing paragraph. It is an interesting read - if you want to check it out for yourself, click the link above.

I highly recommend the leap of faith necessary to create this type of arrangement. To create a more caring and healthy society, I think we need to make this leap more often in our communities. We are not hippies, but we crave a place where neighbours know each other well and aren't afraid to lean on each other. We all need both privacy and community, and with so few places in the city where the two coexist so brilliantly, we have created an ideal place to live, to grow and thrive, to watch the seasons come and go, to witness our children grow together.


solipsist said...

They actually look like really nice places.

If They can keep any fractousness regarding co-ownership at bay, it looks like not a bad ideal.

rentah said...

One could put this down to a sociological phenomenon marking the vicinity of a top in the RE market.

bc_cele said...

Is it just me, or does this sound eerily like the comments you get at the beginning of a romantic relationship? Everything is all love and kisses in the beginning, but the honeymoon period doesn't last long. Wonder what the author might be thinking a few years from now?

Freako said...

Reminds me of the silly arguments made around "bartering". Pretty obvious that money is a very efficient medium of exchange. Bartering is not. But it is marketed as some type of "natural" holistic event that precedes the invention of the "evil" we know as money. In reality is about tax evasion and market segmentation of spare capacity.

I can see a similar romaticized argument made for co-ownership. There is a pretty good argument for using money as common denominator. Similarly, individual land titles exist for a reason. As I am sure some of these co-ownwers are apt to find out.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Freako. These people are asking for trouble. There is no exit strategy if they don't get along.

The property should have been strata titled, or at a very minimum held as an incorporated co-op or a private corporation. These forms of property ownership exist for a reason.

The nightmare scenario is if the property turns upside down and these options are no longer available.

And BTW, this also happened in 1981. I actually considered something like it myself but fortunately it didn't work out.

Anonymous said...

I know two families who did the same. And their realtor is now working on making other "family matches" in order to sell unaffordable SFH. BTW, my friends have reached the post "honey moon" period of the co-op deal, and the landing is pretty hard. I agree with all of you.

Clarke said...

I am with everyone else on this. Ever see any of those reality tv shows where different families get put together to live as communities (usually with some historic or isolation dynamic)? Things usually start out idyllic, and then go south in a big big way.....

blacknbrownout said...

On the small business side, it's almost a truism that partnerships almost always disolve badly -- especially if the parties aren't legally prepared. But business is protected (if done properly) from your "real life" by all sorts of legislative and legal mechanisms.

The stress and risk where it's your life assets and yourself (not a legal entity) on the line must be enormous ...

solipsist said...

I was thinking about this last night, and thought that the best-case scenario in the event of problems would be for two of the parties to buy out the third, and split the middle place - convert to two freehold properties.

They looked at a strata arrangement, but decided that it was too expensive. I have a feeling that it was probably dealt with as a private corporation (though that was not stated explicitly in the article).

The only way I would ever go for it is if I was CEO, CFO, etc. Kinda like G W Bush saying that a dictatorship wouldn't be a bad idea - as long as he was the dictator.

In the long run, it would be a very limiting situation - just as barter is. It would not work for me.

I would be interested in a follow-up when the property does turn upside down - as it is sure to do.

Jesse said...

Sounds like they have some good legal advice. The risks of this agreement are more numerous, as will be the stress and overhead if one of the partners exits. How will this property price itself compared to an equivalent townhouse strata? In fact I'm confused why "stratification" wasn't chosen. Zoning? Tax?

Anonymous said...

"And BTW, this also happened in 1981. I actually considered something like it myself but fortunately it didn't work out. "

Couldn't resist commenting on this one.
I did this in 1980 on my first house with my first serious girlfriend and her brother and wife but only me and the girlfriend lived in the house and they paid 20% of the mortgage,about $100 to our $500.
Worked out great as prices rapidly almost doubled . That is til I found out she was a bitch and the brother was a total jerk. The saviour was the joint ownership deal I insisted on signing where each party had the option to buy the other out at market value within a set time limit (30 days I think) or they all have to sell together if the others don't want to buy the other out. Only problem was as I wanted out at the top of the market in January that year, it took two months to get the jerk brother to agree to sell til I threatened with a lawyer.
Lost out on about 20% during that time as the market started tanking that spring, but still came out of it with a decent profit for a year and half and a life experience to never do that again.