My sibling and I want to buy a home together – where should we start?

As real estate in certain regional markets heats up, more and more buyers are exploring the option of joint ownership. Doing so definitely has possible upsides – especially when it comes to funding the down payment and balancing carrying costs.

For the benefit of all readers, Joint Ownership is defined as a situation in which two or more persons (individuals or corporations) co-own a property.

In your case, this is not a matrimonial home and therefore you will want to get some expert advice before moving forward – starting with a registered salesperson and a lawyer specializing in real estate and estate planning. There are some very crucial factors to take into consideration when looking at co-ownership. Some transaction related and some personal in nature.

Your salesperson and a real estate lawyer can help you determine which type of ownership would work best for you and your sibling. “Joint tenancy” or “tenancy in common”, both recognize each of you as owners however each have their own nuances that could significantly impact one or both of you following any major life events, should you wish to sell the property in the future or upon a death, should you still own the property at that time.

You can also work with your lawyer to make sure both of your interests are protected and to minimize the possibility of conflicts down the road should one of you change your mind about ownership.

Beyond the financial implications that your salesperson and lawyer can advise you on, joint ownership is a big decision with significant personal and lifestyle impacts that require careful consideration. I suggest you and your sibling have a very candid conversation regarding your decision before entering into a binding purchase agreement together.

There are some very practical and likely life event scenarios that you should take into consideration like:

    • How will you deal with a marriage, divorce or decision to rent part or all of the home
    • What will happen if either or both of you becomes ill or unemployed?
    • How will financial obligations be divided for major repairs, unexpected expenses and taxes?
    • What happens to the property if one of you becomes ill and can no longer cover your share of the expenses?
    • What happens if someone goes into debt or defaults on an owned business, or loan?
    • Is there a provision in the agreement that allows one to purchase the share of the other with consent or procedure when there is not mutual consent?

These and many more are very real scenarios that through open discussion with your sibling and conversations with knowledgeable experts will help prepare you to embark on your journey to real estate ownership.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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