Whether you’re divvying up your vacay time between friends, family, or coworkers, sharing a vacation home can be incredibly rewarding for all involved. But being prepared is key.
Sometimes, timeshare arrangements can get complicated, especially if everyone’s not on the same page before buying in. But splitting a vacation home should not come with extra stress, added tension, or strained relationships. That’s why formulating an agreed-upon plan to handle all possible issues, expenses, and obstacles is important. Word to the wise: cover your bases early, and you’ll be thankful you did later on.
To help you get the most out of your shared vacation home, let’s talk about some common issues and how to handle them in advance.
Pick The Right Partners
Sharing a vacation home with close friends or family might sound ideal. But many people share a vacation home with people they’re not emotionally intimate with, and they prefer it that way. When there’s a problem, tensions can run higher between those who already know each other a little too well. That’s why being friends is not the most important factor. Although, it helps to be chummy and have mutual trust.
Furthermore, your house-share partners should be level-headed people who you feel you can be direct with. Conflict resolution will likely be necessary at some point, so be sure you feel you can talk to them about house-related issues when and if need be.
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Set Some Ground Rules Right Away
If you’re going to share a house with others, clarity will be key. Decide what the house rules are and abide by them in advance. It’s not necessary to agree on everything, but it’ll help to see eye to eye on the basics.
For instance, will pets be allowed in the house? Do you want to hire a cleaning service? Will you rent the house out to other people? And who will handle the repairs? Figure it out now to avoid any miscommunications down the road.
Work Out a Vacation Schedule
When it comes to vacation hours, there’s undoubtedly going to be some overlap. There may very well come a time when everyone wants the house on New Year’s or Memorial Day weekend. Obviously, this kind of unforeseen overlap could really spoil the fun.
To avoid any uncomfortable situations, arguments, or ruined romantic weekend for two, figure out a calendar that’s fair and fun for all. You may not know exactly what you want or when you’ll be vacationing just yet, but there’s no harm in marking random weeks to make sure that at minimum, everyone gets at least one week a month in the house.
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Build an Expense Budget
You may never stay there at the same time, but you’ll be paying for it together. Obviously, you’ll have to nail down fixed monthly expenses, including things like property taxes and home owner’s insurance. You’ll also need to figure out how to handle monthly utilities, so sit down and do the necessary math. Some people who share vacation homes even set up a joint bank account just for recurring bills.
You’ll likely find there are tons of expenses to sort out, including renovation and decor costs. Draw up a list of what the house needs, including potential upgrades, and build an expense budget as a team.
Discuss an Exit Strategy Going In
Nothing lasts forever, and this is usually true of timeshares as well. But nobody wants the financial burden of a former timeshare dumped on them suddenly. So don’t let that happen.
Family members may change their minds for financial reasons, or a friendship could go south. The fact is, you never know what could happen and nothing is guaranteed. So always prepare for the unknown. As you go into co-ownership, discuss potential reasons that either of you may leave and the best way to go about it when and if the time comes.
Here are some questions to ask your vacation home partner(s):
- If someone must back out, can non-family members pick up ownership? What are the terms?
- If it’s a family home, will it ever be sold? Do all family members need to agree to a sale?
- Should the “right of partition” be waived? In a nutshell, the right of partition is “forcing the sale of co-owned property.” If the partition right is not waived, real problems can arise between house sharing partners, especially if it is a family home.
By outlining and answering exit strategy questions before everyone moves in, you’ll be able to get on the same page. You’ll also be able to decide whether or not you should move forward with the plan. A reluctant potential partner who has doubt going in may be more likely to back out sooner than you think. But knowing where everyone stands can help you prepare for, and potentially avoid, unfortunate surprises like that.
Again, set some ground rules. Decide how much notice is reasonable to give before someone exits, and get the agreement in writing. The reality is, that you won’t be able to predict exactly what happens next. But with a solid shared plan, you’ll be on your way to happy vacation home life.
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