A Summer Full of Fun in Muskoka

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There no place like Muskoka in the Summertime for lots to do. Whether it is a whole family fun day or fun for just the grown-ups on a balmy Muskoka evening you will not lack for choices.

MUSIC

If an evening of music overlooking the water is pulling at you heart strings you will want to make Wednesday evenings In Huntsville or Sunday evenings at the Gravenhurst Gull Lake Rotary Park a weekly destination.

 

Every Wednesday – July and August 7- 8pm
Concerts on the Dock series (including perennial favourites, the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra)
Town Dock, Huntsville                                                                                                                                        Admission: suggested donation of a toonie (goes directly to the performer)

Every Sunday – July and August 7:30  – 8:30 pm                                                                                 Music on the Barge offers a wide variety of musical programming from Country and Bluegrass to the Big Band era, tribute bands and Rock & Roll.                                                                                                                    Gull Lake Rotary Park, Gravenhurst                                                                                                                        Admission is by a free-will offering. All donations go toward the Music on the Barge programming.

Every Thursday – July to Sep 5   &:00 – 8:30 pm                                                                                      Off the Water – Bandshell Concert Series featuring local live music- a different group of musicians take the stage each week.                                                                                                                                          Memorial Park, Bracebridge                                                                                                                                          Admission: free. Bring a lawn chair or your favourite blanket for comfortable seating, and enjoy the show!

Aug 2-4
Sawdust City Music Festival
Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website; some shows are free

Jazz fest you say. Yes, indeed Muskoka has a Jazz fest!

August 24
Inaugural Muskoka Jazz Festival
James Bartleman Island, Port Carling
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

From the north to south there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy amazing food treats this summer.

July 12-14
Huntsville Ribfest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: $3 (10 and under free)

July 13, 10am-12pm
Butter Tart Festival
Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling
Admission: $2

July 26-28
Muskoka Ribfest and the Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free

August 3
Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival
Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge
Admission: $30 in advance or $40 at the gate; must be legal drinking age

September 14
Macaroni Festival and Busker Fest
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

August 10
Muskoka Veg Fest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: free

ARTS AND CRAFTS

For lookers and buyers alike, there will be something for everyone at these summer shows. Looking for a gift for a fried, early Christmas or simply to spoil yourself Muskoka is the home of many fine artisans and the talent on display will be sure to impress.

July 19-21
Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show
Annie Williams Memorial Park, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 20-Aug 11
The Artful Garden (this is The Artful Garden’s final year)
1016 Partridge Lane, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 27
Nuit Blanche North
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

August 10-11
Baysville Arts and Craft Festival
Baysville
Admission: by donation

August 16-18
Dockside Festival of the Arts
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: by donation

August 17-18
Artists of Limberlost Open Studio Weekend
Limberlost Road, Huntsville
Admission: free

ACTIVITIES AND FUN!

From power tools to yoga, street dancing to fireworks there is sure to be something to please the whole family here.

July 12-14
35th annual Muskoka Pioneer Power Show
J.D. Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Admission: $5 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)

July 19, 6 pm-midnight
Midnight Madness and Street Dance (there’s a beer garden, too)
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

July 19-21
Muskoka Yoga Festival and 10k Forest Run
Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Huntsville
Admission: see the website for pricing

July 19-28
Muskoka Pride Festival
Various activities across Muskoka – see website for details
Admission: free

July 20-21
Dog Fest Muskoka
Bracebridge Fairgrounds
Admission: $5 (under 13 free)

July 20, 3 pm
Algonquin Outfitters Paddle on Comedy Festival
Town Dock/Muskoka River, Huntsville
Tickets: suggested donation $15 (cash only)
Canoe rentals available at Algonquin Outfitters

July 24
Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Bala Museum
Admission: $5.99/person or $19.99/family of fourbalasmuseum.com

July 27
Baysville Walkabout Festival
Baysville
Admission: by donation

August 3
Midnight Madness
Downtown Bracebridge
Admission: free

August 3, 9 pm
Civic Holiday fireworks
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free

August 10
Love Fest Street Festival
Dorset
Admission: by donation

This long list of things to do and see in and around Muskoka is part of the many things that make this area a wonderful place to live! Call me if you would like help   find your perfect little spot here in paradise!

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Muskoka Invasive Plant Management

Giant HogweedNo, I have not gone crazy, I don’t want to build a wall or cause panic, but we are being invaded here in beautiful Muskoka, by a series of invasive and noxious plants. If we ignore them, they will do permanent damage to our beautiful home, but the good news is we can all help eradicate them before they get a permanent foothold here.

Starting this month, the district of Muskoka will start a program of treating the roadside verges with herbicides wherever they find any of these plants. You can help by contacting them and letting them know if you see plants of this type growing. So, what are the plants, how do I recognize them and who do I contact?

Giant Hog Weed.  This one may be the easiest to recognize as you drive around Muskoka and certainly poses the most “danger to humans” as its sap can cause burns to the skin.

According to the District of Muskoka’s website

Giant Hogweed has two major negative impacts. Firstly, due to its invasive nature, it poses a threat to native biodiversity. Secondly, Giant Hogweed is a public health hazard. It produces a noxious sap that sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet light. This is known as photosensitivity, which can result in severe and painful burning and blistering. It is important to avoid any skin contact with this plant.

  • The plant can grow from 2.5 to 4 metres high (8 – 14 feet).
  • The saw-toothed leaves are deeply lobed and can grow to 1 metre (3 feet) across.
  • The stems are hollow with dark reddish-purple splotches and coarse white hair.
  • The watery sap produced by the leaves and stems contains a chemical that causes skin to become highly sensitive to the sun.
  • Small white flowers are clustered in an umbrella-shaped head that can grow larger than 30 centimeters (1 foot) in diameter.
  • The seeds are oval and flat.
  • It can be found along: roadsides, vacant lots and stream banks.

Getting rid of this plant if you have located it on your own property is not recommended. The District of Muskoka suggests calling in a professional weed control company to handle both the removal and disposal of this noxious plant. Remember if you do attempt this by yourself you cannot put it out for garbage collection. The plant waste must be disposed of properly. Read the specific instructions on the District of Muskoka website.

Japanese Knot Weed.  While it is not as simple to identify as Giant Hog Weed this plant also has distinctive characteristics.

According to the District of Muskoka’s website

The stalks grow straight up and can reach as high as 3 metres. The stems appear to be round and reddish-purple in colour. Large, heart-shaped leaves form in a zigzag pattern along the hollow stem. Flowers are cream-coloured that grow vertically from the stem in clusters.

  • Japanese Knot Weed has a strong root system and can spread about 10 metres from the parent stem.
  • It has the ability to grow through concrete and asphalt.
  • This fast-growing invasive species is known to change river flows, interrupting spawning beds, it rips through roadways and even threatens foundations of homes.
  • Knot Weed commonly grows in gardens, along roadsides and near old buildings or former building sites.

Unfortunately, getting rid of this plant is very difficult. While digging and cutting knotweed is a solution, this method can break up the rhizomes, creating more growing ends. To control the spread of Japanese knotweed in gardens and residential properties, stems must be cut down several times throughout the growing season to deplete the root system.  Cut the base of the stalk just before flowering once the plant reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet. This usually occurs around mid to late June in Muskoka. Subsequent cuttings may occur around early August and again in early September. Persistent cutting may be combined with other options such as digging out roots and laying down tarp material for several years in order to successfully control this species.

Invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed). This last plant of concern is perhaps the most difficult to identify as it looks very similar to natural local reed varieties.

According to the district of Muskoka’s web site

Invasive Phragmites:

  • grows in stands that can be extremely dense with as many as 200 stems per square metre
  • can grow so densely that it crowds out other species
  • can reach heights of up to 5 metres (15 feet)
  • has stems that are tan or beige in colour with blue-green leaves and large, dense seed heads.
  • Invasive Phragmites uptake nutrients from their environment and out-compete native plants such as cattails and willows; they result in loss of habitat for other plants and animal/aquatic life and further jeopardize species at risk.
  • Inhibit agricultural drainage ditches and cause flooding.
  • their dead stalks resist decay, filling in open ponds and creating dead zones unusable for wildlife
  • Once their seeds colonize an area, they spread quickly with seeds and rhizomes (horizontal plant stems growing underground).

Native Phragmites:

  • grows in stands that are usually not as dense as the invasive plant
  • well-established stands are frequently mixed with other plants
  • usually has more reddish-brown stems, yellow-green leaves and smaller, sparser seed heads.

 

It is very important to remember that invasive Plant Species cannot be collected at the curb, due to the possibility of seed spread during transportation.  Any mature invasive plants with seeds should be carefully bagged in a sealed household sized garbage bag and loaded into your vehicle (covered with a tarp or canopy), and disposed of at the Rosewarne Landfill in Bracebridge.  The district of Muskoka cannot accept invasive plant waste at Transfer Stations as the seeds could become airborne and spread throughout our area. Be sure to inform the Guard upon entering that you have invasive plants (and not simply yard waste), to ensure that your Invasive Weeds are disposed of in the proper location.

Keeping Muskoka beautiful and free from these invasive plants is a mission we should all undertake. It not only enhances our wonderful environment but will help to keep our property values strong. Real Estate is not just the bricks and mortar it is “location, location, location” so let’s all work together to keep our location spectacular!

Buying a Muskoka Fixer-Upper Home Yes or No?

Have you been thinking about buying a Muskoka home to fix up and live in? There is a certain romance to the thought of taking on a home that needs a lot of work and making it yours with your own blood, sweat and tears.  Maybe you’re on the other side and thoughts of Tom Hanks and Shelly Long throwing their money into a “money pit” have you saying “No way, not for me!”.

A traditional fixer-upper is a property that will require significant renovations, reconstruction or redesign to be habitable or saleable at market value. They typically list and sell below the market value of homes of equal size and vintage in similar neighbourhoods.

So, you need to ask yourself if a fixer-upper is a bargain brimming with potential OR should it be avoided like the plague? The answer to this perplexing question will depend on several factors, including you!

One of the best reasons to buy a fixer-up home or cottage is for the location &/or lot. If you are determined to live in a particular part of Muskoka it may mean you have to “snap up” what is available and then fix up the home or cottage to suit your needs.  If the size and structure of the property are right for you, it likely makes more sense to renovate as opposed to a complete demolition and rebuild which can be more time-consuming and in most cases more expensive.

Renovating a fixer-upper is expensive, and you can’t often finance a renovation.  Typically it is not a project for a first-time buyer as usually all available funds are directed to the actual purchase.  Remember that a fixer-upper is a large project, not the usual renovation projects most of us plan to do over time after we move into new home.  So, to tackle a fixer-upper you need to have some capital tucked away to fund the project. Typically, it is a second or third-time home buyer who has a little DIY experience who takes on a fixer-upper home.

A buyer for a fixer-upper is sometimes someone looking for their “forever home” or they may be an investor seeking poorly-maintained properties to fix and flip. In both cases they have usually had several home purchase experiences under their belts and can rely on this to help them through tackling a large project like this.

As a buyer you need to consider your time, money and knowledge when taking on a fixer-upper. Will the time and money involved in fixing up a home or cottage be worth it in the end? If your full-time job is contracting, will the time spent on your own project be as valuable in the end as working on paid contracts?

Be prepared for surprises.  Buyers for this type of property often don’t spend money on a Home Inspection. Without a thorough inspection of the property you could miss costly remediation issues like mold, asbestos, or faulty foundations.

Also be sure to include time for due diligence to explore municipal regulations, zoning and permitting.  And, allow adequate time to carefully cost out the renovation – small things add up. Doing so could save a lot of heart ache or even financial loss.

A final consideration is whether you will need to hire a project manager or do it alone.  Will you hire a contractor for the entire project, or manage contractors and trades for the different jobs yourself? Hiring trades for everything can be a challenge to coordinate if you’ve never done it before especially if you don’t know the local trades people.  And remember, the good ones are often booked several months out.

As a local Realtor with many years of experience I am happy to help you find a perfect project home or cottage.  And, if you have your heart set on a “fixer- upper” with my contacts in the region I may be able to suggest trades people you will need to be successful in your venture.

Why I love being a Muskoka Realtor in the Winter

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Fire and Ice festival – Picture from Discover Muskoka

Being an active Muskoka Realtor I get to see this beautiful region in all the seasons. Yes, there are times I am more happy to live here than others. The -35oC  mornings in January do take my breath away and not always because of the spectacular scenery!

However, being a devotee of fresh-air and out-door fun, I know Muskoka in winter can be a blast too. That’s why I am never surprised to be selling recreational homes and cottages ALL year round. Muskoka is not just a summer destination any more.

Here are a few things I know my friends and family enjoy and are definitely part of the draw for my buyers.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
One of the most amazing ways to enjoy the majestic Muskoka winter landscape is to bundle up in your warmest clothes and snap into your cross-country skis or snowshoes. There are numerous trails to choose from giving you easy access to nature and a great cardiovascular workout too. Favourite locations are Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks and also the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails  which offers ample space for an outdoor adventure, with nine track-set ski loops of varying difficulty, plus nearly 40 kilometers of back-country hiking trails through the Muskoka winter wonderland. If you want to try out these activities but do not have equipment you can rent from several places including Algonquin Outfitters and Muskoka Outfitters.

Snowmobiling
If you are a fan of something faster, snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to experience the Muskoka winter. Yes, it is noisier than skiing or hiking, but it also allows you to cover a lot more territory. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs manages a 1,200-kilometer network of tracks, stretching across the Muskoka winter landscape. Remember to ride in Ontario you must have a valid driver’s license and purchase a trail permit, but you need not own your own sled. Rentals are available you can find out more by visiting the OFSC’s website.

Skiing
Muskoka isn’t exactly known for its mountainous terrain, but there are enough peaks and valleys here to take advantage of our beautiful Muskoka winter. In Huntsville, the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area features  downhill runs and  a snowboard terrain park with options for most skill levels and a ski shop and rentals available on site.

Dog-sledding
In Muskoka you say? Yes, you don’t need to travel to the Arctic Circle to experience the thrill of dog-sledding. North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville offers visitors the opportunity to “mush!” with a team of 60 beautiful Alaskan huskies. Take a short 1 hour run or a half day tour with a hot chocolate break in the middle. You will be given the opportunity to meet the dogs and take some lovely pictures too!

Ice Fishing
The region’s most popular on-water activity in summer may be boating but in the winter the fish win for sure. Once the lakes have frozen over there are many locations you can simply cut a hole and bring your pole to have hours of fun. In the Huntsville area, Hooked Young provides all-inclusive ice fishing experiences in mobile shacks or in a large cabin with cooking facilities and a washroom. Knowledgeable guides take you to where the fish are, maximizing your chances to hook a lake trout, northern pike or pickerel, while enjoying the company of fellow anglers.

Taking a Spa Day
A day out in our dry crisp Muskoka can take a toll on your body. Fortunately, Muskoka is home to several wonderful spas. Among the most luxurious is the Spa at the Rosseau, which offers facials, body treatments, couples packages and more in a calming space overlooking its namesake lake. Elsewhere, Touch SpaThe Amba Spa and Spa Taboo feature equally diverse treatment packages – perfect for a little skin and muscle rejuvenation after a day or two of outdoor fun and exercise.

Bracebridge Fire & Ice Festival                                                                                        Whether you are shopping for a Muskoka property or not, be sure to take in the Fire & Ice Festival in Bracebridge on January 26, 2019. With fireworks, fire pits, a legendary downtown tube run, interactive ice displays, a skating trail in Memorial Park, Lumberjack Show, wood carving, Birds of Prey interactive show & more – there is something for everyone.

I love being a Muskoka Realtor as much as I love simply being a Muskoka resident in the stunning winter we get to enjoy. If you are thinking that you would love being here as much as I do, then take a look at my listings and let me find you a perfect Muskoka home or get-away.

Choosing a Great Muskoka Realtor

Closing you Braceridge Home Purchase - Karen Acton Royal LePageAs a Muskoka Realtor I cannot sell your home for you or help you purchase one until I have sold you on me! Here are some great reasons why you should consider using my services to ensure that your have a satisfying Realtor experience.

Education and Experience

You do not need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire me. I have taken the required RECO courses and have many years of practical award-winning experience that you can benefit from. After all Henry Ford said, “When you hire people who are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.”

Neighbourhood Knowledge

I know my area well. I not only list and sell in the Muskoka area I live here and have for many years.  I know about the Muskoka communities and if I do not have a specific answer for you, I know who to ask.

Concierge Service

I have a great network of other Realtors, Lawyers, Home Inspectors and Mortgage Lenders who I can call upon to help me assist you.

Handle All the Required Paperwork

In the 1970’s you could buy or sell a property using a one-page document but today with all the Federal, Provincial and Regulatory paperwork required you will need to deal with several sets of multi-page documents to achieve a successful sale or purchase. I can and will guide you through it all and make sure you understand what you are signing before you sign it!

Understand Market Conditions

Real estate markets are often in a state of flux.  While there can be periods of stability, that can change quiet suddenly. A loss of jobs in a community can make a large difference and turn a sellers’ market into a buyers’ one in just a few days. It is my job to be alert to these changes and advise you accordingly.

Value and Price Guidance

Contrary to popular belief, it is not my job to tell you what price to list your property for or what to offer on the one you want to buy.  However, it is my job to provide you with some actual market data to draw conclusions about CURRENT market values and give you my insights based on my experience. That way you can make an informed decision.

Be Your Buffer

As your representative it is my job to filter out all the spam! When I list your property, I will not be the only one showing it, so I will prepare your listing with all the details, documents, and information a potential buyer needs so they can make a decision easily and without waiting for answers. When you are buying I will methodically determine exactly what type of property you like and then only take you to properties with a high probability of meeting your criteria.

Negotiation Skills

Whether you are buying or selling it is almost impossible to keep your emotions out of the mix. I am your “cool calm and collected” negotiator.  I will stand between you and your equally emotional counterpart and negotiate for you the best price and terms possible.

Your Person

Once you have an accepted offer I am not going to disappear from the picture. I will continue to be standing beside you answering your questions. When you have general questions and don’t want to bother your lawyer or mortgage broker, call me. When you want to know where to buy a fridge or hire a great plumber or contractor call me. I will be happy to help.

Realtor for Life

This one may sound a bit cliché but I really do want to earn that title. Many of my past clients call me for a re-evaluation of a home or cottage that I assisted them with years ago. They do not intend to sell but simply want to manage their assets and need to know.  I am happy to offer this service to them. I am often asked to assist family or friends of my past clients in Muskoka with buying or selling; or to find a Realtor for them in another community that will give them the same level of service they enjoyed with me. I work hard to earn this level of loyalty from my clients as I do sincerely love my profession and want to be your Muskoka Realtor for life!

 

Managing your well in a Muskoka Drought

dug_wellIn all areas, including Muskoka, groundwater levels in wells will vary over time.  While we are not experiencing an official drought yet, we are definitely in a “dry spell” and more and more people are starting to have issues with water levels and the quality of water in their wells. Water conservation and pump adjustments can help manage your water well during drought.

Droughts can be stressful for the many Muskoka residents who rely on private wells for their water supply. As wells tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored the very invisible nature of groundwater leads to an uneasy feeling among home and cottage owners relying on wells. There is an almost constant fear that their water supply could dry up without warning. 

The Normal Cycle of Groundwater Levels

The water level in a groundwater well will fluctuate naturally during the year. Groundwater levels tend to be highest during March and April in response to winter snowmelt and spring rainfall. The movement of rain and snowmelt into groundwater is known as recharge.

Groundwater levels usually begin to fall in May and continue to decline during the summer. Groundwater recharge is limited during late spring and summer because trees and other plants use the available water to grow. Natural groundwater levels usually reach their lowest point in late September or October. In late fall, after trees and plants have stopped growing and before snow begins to fall, groundwater levels may rise in response to rainfall and recharge. Groundwater recharge persists through the fall until cold temperatures produce snowfall and frozen soil that limit the ability of water to infiltrate into the ground. Groundwater levels during winter may be stable or fall slightly until spring snowmelt and rainstorms start the annual cycle again. Given this natural cycle of groundwater, most problems with wells tend to occur in late summer or early fall when groundwater levels naturally reach their lowest levels.

How Can I Conserve Water?

Water conservation measures become critical during times of drought. If you rely on a private well, you should conserve water as mush as possible always and especially as soon as drought conditions occur.

You can significantly reduce the water use within your cottage or home by making changes in habits and by installing water-saving devices. Examples might include flushing the toilet less often, taking shorter showers, only washing full loads of dishes or laundry, not rinsing dishes before the dishwasher unless especially dirty, not rinsing anything under running water but filling a sink or basin to rinse, brushing teeth with a glass of water and not a running tap, collecting water from roof gutters into rain barrels for outside use. Other good things to implement are household bans on the nonessential use of water such as car washing and lawn watering.  

What Can I Do If My Well Runs Dry?

There are a number of reasons why a well may quit producing water. Water quality problems like iron bacteria and sediment may clog the well and severely restrict water flow and the recovery rate of the well. This becomes more noticeable in dry seasons when there is less ground water available. Shocking or cleaning your well may increase the flow of water however it will not bring back water to a dry well unless the water table comes back up.

Under persistent dry weather conditions, the water level in your well may drop below the submersible pump or intake foot valve, causing a loss of water. In some cases, the water level may only temporarily drop below the pump/intake when water is being frequently drawn from the well during showers or laundry. Under these conditions, you may be able to continue using the well by initiating emergency water conservation measures and using water only for essential purposes.

If the water level permanently drops below the submersible pump or intake, it may be possible to lower the pump/intake within the existing well. In most cases this will only provide a short-term solution to the problem. More permanent solutions require either deepening the existing well or drilling a new well. Be aware that deepening an existing well may not increase the well yield and could produce water of different water quality characteristics. You should consult with a local well driller  to determine the best solution for your situation.

Proper management of private wells during droughts will become more important as competition for water in Muskoka increases.

Can I have water delivered to my well?

The simple answer is of course yes but the honest one is that it is not worth it. A well is a tube not a cistern. It has no bottom so if you put in several hundred gallons of water it will seep out of the bottom until it is gone or reaches the level of the water table. You will only be able to benefit from the water for a brief time before it drains away. Having water delivered to your well is not a fix and much of what you pay for will seep away.

As a Muskoka realtor I try to ensure that my buyers are aware of the water source at any potential home or cottage they want to purchase. I include a potability (safe drinking water) clause and often include a clause about the well pump and production. However, no home owner can control the water table and if you are living with a well, or plan to be, you will need to understand how it works and how to best protect your family in the occasional drought we experience here in Muskoka.

5 Things to consider when investing in a Muskoka Property with a friend

Friendship HandshakeBuying a cottage or a rental investment property in Muskoka can be a smart financial move. As you pay down the debt, you build equity in a property that will in all likelihood appreciate in value over time.

There are the tax benefits in most cases as you can deduct your rental expenses from any income you earn, including items such as mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, repair and maintenance costs, and property management, all of which saves you money at tax time. The primary benefit of course is the revenue stream it will generate. However, as owning investment property requires an investment of time and effort as well as money, choosing to share that burden with a friend can make sense. This is definitely appealing but it will come will with some challenges.  Here are five things to give serious consideration to before investing in real estate with a friend.

 1. Your Mortgage Rate Will be Tied to Both Credit Reports

When applying for financing on a property purchase both you and your friend’s credit history will be used.  If one of you has bad credit it can negatively affect the mortgage terms, including the interest rate that you pay on the loan. Remember that even a minor change in interest of even 0.5% will make a big difference in the amount due every month on your mortgage and in the total interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

2. You Risk Your Good Credit Rating

When both you and your friend are listed on the mortgage, you are both responsible for making payments. If the mortgage falls behind for whatever reason, the lender will report both of you to the credit agencies for non-payment even if it is not you personally in default. Because both names are on the mortgage, your friend’s non-payment could end up costing you big on your credit report and significantly affect your future potential to borrow money for your personal requirements.

3. You May Have Challenges Getting Other Loans

Assuming there are no issues and you and your friend split the mortgage payment each month 50-50 with no defaults you still need to know that each of you alone is responsible for the entire mortgage payment.  To a new lender, say, for a car loan or a personal home purchase, this can have a substantial impact. They will include the whole payment amount of that mortgage in the debt-to-income ratio calculation and it may make it difficult to qualify for other loans.

4. No “Easy Button” for Moving Out

If you rent an apartment or house with a friend, it’s usually easy to walk away if the two of you no longer get along, or if you just decide to move. Not so with a mortgage. Since both of your names are on the title of the property and the mortgage, you are both responsible for making the payments. To get one of the names off the mortgage and deed, you have to sell the house on the open marker or one to another. Selling on the open market can take time and sometimes even result in a loss if the market conditions are not ideal.

It’s a good idea to have a written agreement in place that details your agreed-upon exit plan should one of you decide to move on. The agreement should also cover what happens if either of you dies. Does the survivor become the sole owner, or does he or she need to buy out the heirs of the deceased partner? What percentage of the property you each own? Will the property be sold, and if so, how will the proceeds be divided?

Another good idea for financial protection is for both parties to purchase life insurance on the mortgage in case of death.

5. Disagreement Over Responsibilities

A great friendship can be quickly tested if there are any disagreements over who is responsible for a property related undertaking.  Payment of utilities and taxes, maintenance, hiring support help when required, budgets for work required and other items that need attending to in a timely fashion are all potential sources of conflict.  To avoid this, include in your written agreement details regarding the breakdown of expenses, how repairs and maintenance will be handled (who will do the work, and how the costs will be shared), plus how deductions will be claimed (e.g., who gets to claim the mortgage interest deduction or whether you split it in some way).

The Bottom Line

Buying an investment property with a friend will have lots of benefits:

  • It should be easier to qualify for a mortgage
  • you get to share all the monthly expenses, including utilities, maintenance/repair costs and the mortgage payment.
  • you get to build equity as you pay down the loan.

This kind of purchase will also have some challenges and it is important to make a well thought-out and informed decision.  Do your homework ahead of time, and make sure you and your friend both have the income to meet the monthly expenses of the investment without relying on any potential income from it.

Most importantly, protect your friendship and avoid trouble down the road by having a written agreement.  It is a good idea to hire a lawyer to write a comprehensive agreement that details who is responsible for what, what happens if one of you wants to move on, and how the property will be handled if one of you passes away.

If you and a friend have been pondering this type of partnership I would be delighted to help you find the perfect property, call or email me today!