Interview: when friends buy a home together

What if teaming up with a friend made it possible to buy your own place and pay your own mortgage? We talked to Amber and Nate—two friends who saw the opportunity and made it happen.

Published on
April 13, 2021
Updated on
November 2, 2022
Interview: when friends buy a home together
Written by:
Team CoBuy
Team CoBuy
CoBuy simplifies shared homeownership. Homeownership wasn't designed for friends, family members, and unmarried couples. So we're fixing it.

Living with friends can be fun, functional, and cost-effective. It’s also popular. Today, nearly ten percent of U.S. households include roommates who aren’t related or dating one another.

Buddying up to pay the rent is a stepping stone for some. For others, it’s a lifestyle thing. But what if teaming up with a friend made it possible to buy your own place and pay your own mortgage instead of your landlord’s? We talked to Amber and Nate—two friends who saw the opportunity and made it happen.

ℹ️ Amber & Nate

📅 Ages:
🤝 Relationship:
📍 Purchased:
West Seattle, WA
⏳ Timeline:
Plan to co-own for 4-5 years

CoBuy: Living with friends is universally relatable. I mean, one of the most popular television shows of all time revolves around the lives of roommates in their 20s and 30s. Where does the story of your friendship start?

Nate: In Arizona. We actually lived separately, but we both worked for Starbucks. We were both store managers at locations five miles down the road from each other. But yeah, we’ve been friends going on now for ten years…eight years?

Amber: A long time! [laughs]

Nate: We decided that Seattle was in our future. That prompted us to move in together.

Coffee shops—where lifelong friendships are born! And you’re both at Starbucks today, right? What do you do there?

N: Yeah. I’m a coordinator, so I support two directors that run the greater Washington state area. Next month I’ll be celebrating eight years!

A: I’m a project manager for a services team with a technology focus. I’m like, right behind him. Almost eight years, too.

Congratulations! So let’s fast forward to moving in together. Clearly, that went well?

N: Yeah! We lived together for three and a half years in rentals between apartments and houses. Living together just suited our lifestyles. When we moved in together, it just really, really worked. It made having two dogs very easy because they run each other out. It also gave us the opportunity to recognize that this living situation makes sense for right now and the foreseeable future.

CoBuyers' Amber's and Nate's Dogs.
Amber & Nate's dogs love the new digs.

What lit the spark to go from renting to buying a home together? Did you wake up one day and decide it was time or was it more of a slow burn?

A: You know, it was always my dream to own a house.

N: Well, it actually was Amber’s goal to own a home by 30.

A: We just got tired of lining other people’s pockets and paying other people’s mortgages. And we wanted to invest in ourselves but continue to do it together. It felt daunting, almost impossible, especially for what I wanted to own. And so being able to do that together kind of expanded our buying power and allowed us to own a home together that we love now.

You touch on some of the key points that make co-ownership a compelling option. For a lot of folks, it’s an attractive idea but too tricky to action.

N: We did our homework. We also did a lot of home shopping in years prior. I mean, it’s kind of a weekend thing to go to open houses!

Amber and Nate’s new home in West Seattle, WA.

So what held you back? Were there any challenges in particular?

N: We walked into it trying to understand how two people who are not married get a loan together. Everything made it seem like that wasn’t normal and that we’d have to talk a lot about lines of equity and just other minute details. We weren’t sure how to dial it in on our own.

A: We were also unclear about all of the risk factors and things we needed to consider and talk through—both in terms of the investment and to protect our friendship. We’ve spent close to a decade building this friendship! It was important to make sure we explored all these questions. We wanted to have a plan for what could go wrong. Hopefully, none of it does.

Did you consider any sort of exit strategy?

N: It started with us recognizing that we’re in our mid to late 20s, so the potential for either of us to get into a long-term, committed relationship could complicate the situation. We also work for a company that allows us to do remote work. The flexibility to be able to move if we need to but not hurt one another was a concern. We wanted to understand the exit strategies. Which levers can we pull along the way to make sure we’re equitable across different situations?

How did you move forward?

A: We started Google searching to understand what the process looks like, but we came up empty until we found CoBuy.

N: Amber and I had really tried to look into it. How do you do this? It’s like, do we need to get ‘fake-paper-married’ to buy a house together? We found articles about friends forming LLCs to co-buy and lots of weird stuff. Then I came across this article that had CoBuy in it. CoBuy’s website just had such a wealth of information that it made it feel way more approachable. It synced up with the homework we had done on the market and the loan process. It felt digestible.

Did you discuss what happens after the purchase?

N: We were thinking about co-ownership and had questions around how things might change. What if we want to make changes to our co-ownership agreement? What if we want to terminate or separate ahead of the five-year commitment we had talked about between us? CoBuy helped us understand the options and that we could edit our agreement down the road. We learned that we can give it a year, see what’s changed, and make adjustments if needed. That just made it real and approachable. You want to know that you’re taking care of yourself and your co-owner. So having this knowledge in our back pocket is nice.

What was the co-buying process like?

A: It felt so unapproachable to co-own a house together initially. CoBuy answered a lot of our questions about the process that we didn’t even know we had. They made the process super easy, from beginning to signing the papers to even afterward connecting with the team and celebrating our new home.

N: Amber and I talked about it after the process finished. We were blown away by the experience and just overwhelmed by the level of support. It felt like they were as engaged in us getting a house as we were, which is not something that you’re always getting, you know? All the players were extremely engaged and right there with us, lockstep all the way.

How long did it take?

N: We managed to land our home just a few days after getting pre-approved for a loan and spent less than 30 days in the closing process. There was always a constant level of communication. It made it feel that we could move as rapidly as we wanted to.

Tell us about your new home!

N: It’s a 70-year-old house with one and a half stories. I get to inhabit the entire half story on the top for myself, which is really me. The home offers us the capacity to have our own separate living spaces but still feels kind of cozy. It lends itself well to our lifestyle, and it’s right in the heart of where we want to be in terms of commuting and amenities. A little bit of culture and charm paired with things that need to be renovated!

What do you say to friends considering buying a home together?

N: I mean for me, it makes me want to advocate to any person our age to say don’t wait to buy a home until you’re 30 or don’t wait till you have all the money. If you have a friend and you’re paying rent: you can! You can make it happen.

A: I would 100% recommend using CoBuy. All along, it was just really easy, and it always felt right as we were going through it.

N: It was nice to feel like we had a partner in the process that was there for any questions and as a resource along the way.

A: We’re happy!

(Responses have been edited for clarity and style.)

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