You’ve always wanted to own that vacation or retirement home in the Sunshine State. But, the hemorrhaging economy, declining home equity, and a suspicious job market makes you anxious about investing all your life’s savings. Don’t fret. You don’t have to carry the burden of owning a property all by yourself. You can explore options such as buying that Florida dream home with your parents, a friend or a business partner. Joint home ownership is an emerging trend in Florida, experts say. “We are seeing more and more of it down here,” said Sharon Simms, a St. Petersburg realtor®. “People are usually buying for their parents, while having their names and parents’ names on the deed, or there are situations where a couple buys a condo or a house for their children to live in while attending college or graduate school.”
Joint home ownership can be a great option, but there are certain things you should know before you are locked into a property wedlock. Like any partnership, separation can be messy and agonizing. Here are some tips from industry experts on how to navigate, sustain and maintain a happy property partnership.
Tips for Joint Home Ownership in Florida with Parents and Others
Seek a partner with similar goals: Like in any relationship you want your partner to be in sync with your views and goals. Find someone you can trust and who will follow through with the agreement. If you plan on holding onto the property long term, make sure your partner feels the same way. “One of the concerns when you are taking joint names with parents and children is what happens when one of them wants to sell,” Simms said. Rather than facing that problem a year into the venture, it’s best to iron out those details in the very beginning, Simms said.
Hire a realtor®: Florida is a big state. You can go crazy trying to find the right place for both parents and children or other partners. Whether your looking for joint home ownership options in the bay area, a beach town, a college town, the east or the west coast or the happening city of Miami in the south, you want a realtor® connected with agents in other parts of the state to guide you to the right city or town.
Hire a good real estate attorney: Your realtor® can guide you in finding that perfect home for you and your partner, but to know the legal intricacies of a joint ownership, you need a lawyer. “Purchasing a property is very simple, but you should know what happens if your partner decides to sell and get his money out,” Simms said. There are several scenarios that could arise to rock a partnership, especially when it comes to pursuing joint home ownership with parents. For example, in a situation where there is joint home ownership between parents and children, but there are other siblings in the family, the children who co-own the house may have the final say in how proceeds from the house are shared (or not shared) when the parents are no longer living. The simplest scenario for joint home ownership in Florida with parents would be a partnership between an only child who is financially stable and his or her parents. No matter what your circumstances are, be sure to make an educated decision before signing any documents.
Separation is easy under Florida law: One of the reasons why you should be absolutely sure that your goals about the property’s future is in sync with your partner’s is because under Florida law you have an automatic right to partition unless there’s an agreement that there will be no partition of the property. “I have done more lawsuits and filed more partition petitions than I have defended,” said Hank Sorensen, a real estate attorney. “You could have a lawsuit for partition in sale and the court would take jurisdiction and order a judicial sale.” So communicate, negotiate and put everything in writing before you venture on a new relationship.
Make sure the title is written correctly: Use an attorney or a title company to write the title for you. Have clear instructions as to what will happen to the property if one of the partners dies. If you are buying a property with your son, you should consider scenarios such as what would happen if he goes through a divorce and his wife demands half his share on the home he owns jointly with you. There could be other situations such as an accident and the other party going after your property. It’s very important for the title to be written correctly with clear instructions.
Make sure your estate deed is consistent with your tenant in common title, says realtor® John Elwell. That will save your loved ones from a lot of grief later. You jointly own your Florida home with your daughter, but your son and daughter don’t like each other. If your will says that all your property should go to your daughter, then your son would be forced into a property with a sister that he doesn’t like and they would end up in a partition sale. Under Florida law, your son in this case would have the absolute right to the property. So, as you weigh your joint home ownership options, consider all the possible scenarios before drawing up the agreement.