‘Atypical’ is the new buyer

by Kerrie Kennedy

If there’s such a thing as a traditional buyer anymore, Rebecca Carmona, president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, doesn’t know who that would be. “Because our price points are very high here in Miami, people are getting very creative and finding ways to leverage second and third people to purchase homes,” she said. Case in point, Carmona said her brother, who lives in North Florida, just bought a house with his girlfriend. “In her case, she qualified for the loan, but didn’t have the liquid [capital], so he put the money down,” she said. “The nice thing is that even though the mortgage is in her name and not his, they’re joint tenants in common sharing equal rights.”

Among Carmona’s current clients are a couple, their adult daughter, her husband and their three young children. “The daughter and her husband had been renting but wanting to buy for years,” she said. “But because of credit and income issues, they were never able to qualify. Finally, I said, ‘Listen, do you have any family who could help you?’ and that led to her mother and her husband agreeing to buy a house where they could all live together.”

However, finding a home that would work for this particular set of buyers wasn’t easy. “We really struggled to find a property that would meet everyone’s needs and offer equitable space for each family,” she said. “It seemed like everything we looked at, the main house was really huge and the in-law quarters tiny, or sometimes the opposite. The house we ended up finding was a traditional four-bedroom, three-bath that had a split floor plan. One side of the house was really split off, and the hallways on each side allowed them to separate the spaces with a door.”

Ownership was split just as equitably, with all four adults’ names on the deed under joint tenancy, even though the mother was the one who came up with the down payment and secured the mortgage. The contract also included an addendum listing each member of the group and their relationship to each other.

“Agents need to include specific language in the contract and be sure to check with the lender to make sure they have what’s needed,” Carmona said. “There are no specific rules about this in Florida, so lenders are going to require certain things to be disclosed in a certain way from the beginning.”

It’s worth the extra effort to help non-traditional buyers navigate their way to home ownership. “It would have been so hard for this family to qualify ever, so this really worked out,” she said. “As agents, we should always be looking for creative ways to sell a house.”

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