Can everybody just get along?

(Flickr photo by James Cridland)

In times of economic distress, it’s natural for folks to consider optional housing possibilities.

Communal living is, of course, an age-old system that has, however, tended to lose its appeal among those who have experimented with it in this country.  Yet kibbutzim do seem to work pretty well in Israel.

Here, it is easy to imagine that collective homeownership could catch on as the solution to prices that remain out of reach for many of us.  However, such arrangements are not without their complexities, as Phoebe Chongchua reminds readers in Realty Times.

Questions that must be considered carefully include the following:

  • In the case of two couples in a household, what happens if there should be a divorce?
  • What if someone doesn’t keep up with monthly payments?  And what if someone just wants to drop out?
  • How will responsibilities as mundane as taking out the garbage or as material as paying the bills be divided?  And how will adherence to those responsibilities be enforced?
  • Since living full time with others is way different from a vacation with them, what assurance do the participants have that they will be able to stand each other month after month?

It is wise for those exploring the possibility of collective ownership to discuss their vision for the endeavor exhaustively and to understand what an enormous effort will be necessary for a harmonious relationship to survive close quarters.

For anyone diving into the choppy waters of collective ownership, nothing will be more important than working with a lawyer to draft an agreement that covers the full range of imaginable circumstances such as the possibilities that I’ve barely touched upon in the bullet points above.

I’ve seen often enough how hard it can be for one committed couple to agree on the new home they seek for themselves.  To have more individuals involved has to make even that process more difficult by whole magnitudes, never mind all the other areas of potential disagreement that are bound to follow.

Although any tradeoffs of collective homeownership may, for some, prove to be a better option than spending too much of their income on rent or mortgage payments, the participants certainly need to go down that road not with starry eyes but with hard-nosed analysis.

Frankly, I’m pretty cynical about the odds of success.

Next: A cup runneth. . . (No Weekly Roundup until April 5)

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

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