Apr 6, 2024 - Real Estate

More people in Denver are buying homes together

Illustration of a best friend necklace with a charm in the shape of a house.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Co-buying has become increasingly common in Colorado, especially in Weld County where residents are among the top in the nation for home co-ownership growth.

Why it matters: Splitting the mortgage is one way to become a homeowner in this pricey market.

What they're saying: Co-buying is how some first-time buyers in Denver land their starter home, according to Sarah Wells, a local agent with LiveWork Denver who specializes in collective living.

  • "We see lots of co-buyers that decide to hold a home for three to five years and then part ways, leaving with enough market appreciation to buy their first home solo," she says.

Thousands of Coloradans have taken one of LiveWork's co-buying workshops, and the group has helped dozens of co-buyers purchase a home, including best friends Steven Burge and Katie Bonamasso.

The duo, who are more like family at this point, rented together for about a decade before taking the homeownership plunge.

  • For Burge, who works in the nonprofit world, homeownership wouldn't have been possible solo. And for Bonamasso, co-buying allowed her to buy her dream home — a brick, mid-century modern ranch with plenty of outdoor space, all walking distance from downtown Littleton.
  • It's been two years, and Steven and Katie haven't experienced any co-living cons yet (separate bathrooms help, they say).

Yes, but: Co-buying can be a risky move, so it's important to be clear on your expectations — from your non-negotiable home features to how to split the bills — before signing the dotted line.

  • "The biggest thing we learned, with Sarah's help, is that we could split things equitably instead of equally," Steven shared with Axios.
  • Katie earns more so she pays and owns two-thirds of the home, while Steven pays for and owns one-third — terms that are clearly defined in their buying agreement.

The big picture: Roughly half of Americans are willing to split the bill on buying a home in less traditional ways, Axios' Shauneen Miranda writes.

  • The majority of those interested in co-buying say they'd prefer to buy with a friend or sibling, and just under half say they'd buy with a parent.

Between the lines: The initial draws for co-owning are often financial, but the emotional bonds and support that come with co-living can keep people in these arrangements.

  • Living within a mile of a happy friend increases the likelihood that you'll be happy by 25%, according to a multigenerational study.
  • If you ask Phil Levin — founding team member of the car-free neighborhood Culdesac in Tempe, Arizona, and founder of co-living space Radish in Oakland, California — he'll tell you that living among close friends is "a cheat code for a happy life."

The intrigue: Co-living may be especially beneficial for people with children. "I'm currently working on bringing more parents together to explore options for co-buying and community living that centers families and provides mutual support to parents," Wells says.


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