Like many working adults in our late 20s and early 30s, my friends and I are serial renters. Only 35% of Americans under the age of 35 own homes today, down from 39% at the end of 2009, according to the U.S. Census. We all talk about buying a home one day. But as the cost of renting just about everywhere soars, the road to homeownership can start to feel like a treadmill — moving fast, getting nowhere.
On a recent group trip, a friend had an idea: What if we pool our cash and buy a house together? The concept was simple enough. We’d each chip in enough for a down payment on a house somewhere we like. When we weren’t using it for the occasional group vacay, we could rent it out, creating a passive income stream evenly split among us.
It’s not uncommon for more than one person to buy a house. Couples and family members do it all the time. But we’re a group of eight individuals living in three different states who are still getting used to the whole “adulting” thing and have a hard enough time trying to organize our annual camping trip. Could our friendship — and our finances — survive it?
As of now, it’s still just a fun idea we’re toying around with. But I decided to reach out to some experts to see how it might work. I have to admit, they didn’t exactly help allay my doubts.
Good luck getting approved for a mortgage.
Is it possible for more than one person to apply for a mortgage loan as a group? Certainly. There are no restrictions on how many people can apply for a mortgage. However, it will be mighty difficult getting a bank to approve a group of three or more.
“Having multiple people on a loan can be tricky,” says Sebastian Rivera, a loan officer in Fairfax, Va. “Not all lenders allow more than four people to be added on a loan, and not all loan products allow this either.”
If a weak link in the group has a sub-par credit score, he or she could drive up your mortgage rate. You could drop them from the mortgage loan to get a better deal but will their name still go on the title? You’ll have to hash that out as a group, ideally with help from a real estate attorney.
But if you take out a mortgage loan, only those whose names are listed on the loan will be liable for any missed payments, says Christopher Ling, mortgage expert at Nerdwallet. If that’s the case, you’ll have to decide whose name goes on the mortgage and be sure to include language in your operating agreement that binds all owners to sharing responsibility for mortgage payments.
The ideal situation, says Craig L. Price, a New York City real estate attorney, is to leave mortgage lenders out of the picture and pay cash.
You’re going to need a seriously good real estate attorney.
If you think you can pull this off without an attorney’s help, you’re fooling yourself. There are multiple ways to structure a group home purchase, the most common of which are forming an LLC or purchasing via Tenants-in-Common agreement. If you’re purchasing the property as a group investment and don’t intend to live there, Price recommends forming an LLC. This is fairly easy to do through your state department website. One of the main benefits of an LLC is that it cuts down on each individual’s liability. For example, if you have a party and a guest is injured and decides to sue and the house is owned by an LLC, that person could only go after the assets owned by the LLC, leaving the personal assets of each individual owner protected.
As an LLC, you’d also come up with an operating agreement — guidelines that will lay out how the group will manage just about every hypothetical complication of group homeownership. This is where you decide how to split up the equity, how to finance renovations, what happens if one party wants to sell, what happens if someone gets married and wants to add their spouse to the title, etc. The downside to going the LLC route is that you can’t claim typical homeowner tax credits, like deducting mortgage interest or property taxes.
If all you want to do is purchase a home with friends and co-own equity, there’s another option: Tenants in Common. A TIC agreement essentially stipulates that these people own this home, this is what share each individual owns, and it allows each person to decide who will inherit their shares when they pass away. Under a TIC set-up, at least one individual can claim homeowner tax deductions and divide the savings among the group.
“A Tenants in Common agreement is typically how I see friends who are going into an investment together wanting to go,” says Price.
No title? No ownership.
If you contribute funds to a group real estate investment but don’t have your name on the property title, then you have no ownership rights, says Suzanne Hollander, a real estate attorney in Miami.
“People come to me all the time saying I invested money with my friend in a home but my name wasn’t on the title,” Hollander says. “They think because they’re friends they don’t need the formality of written agreements. But you do. Once you buy property together you’re more than just friends. You’re partners.”
You can have as many names on a title as you wish, which gives each person equal rights to the property.
Everyone has to have an exit strategy.
When life happens — someone takes a financial hit, passes away suddenly, or simply wants out — you have to have a clear exit strategy in place. Yes, it feels like a semi-morbid estate plan, but it’s arguably the most important part of a successful operation agreement, says Hollander. “You have to decide what will happen when one or all wants to sell or has to sell,” she says. It also gives each co-owner peace of mind that they have an out, should they need it.
The simplest way to assign equity to is divide the home’s value by the number of owners. Will you buy out each other’s shares if someone wants out? That could require an appraisal to determine how much the property’s value has appreciated (or fallen) since you bought it. If you have children, will your shares be passed on to them, or distributed among the surviving co-owners? Also, is it possible for one person to sell their shares to another investor? Would the whole group have to vote in order to approve it?
Don’t be surprised if this is the part in the group homebuying process where you start to have second thoughts.
“Just because you’ve been best friends since college doesn’t mean they all have the same values that you do as an investor,” says Hollander.
You may not be ready for it.
If this kind of communal setup sounds appealing to you, forget all the legalese for a second and take Hollander’s advice: Sit down with your friends and have a frank discussion about your finances — how much each earns, how much cash they have available and what their credit score is now. If you can’t even get past this step, maybe you’re not ready to take the leap just yet.
“The way you talk to your friends about personal issues, you need to talk with that same frankness about your financial background if you want to invest in property together,” says Hollander. “It might be an uncomfortable conversation but it will save headaches, legal fees, all sorts of problems in the future.”
Carpets get dirty—it’s a fact of life. But if you just let the problems pile up, those snags, spills, and everyday accidents can make your carpets look old and dingy. Follow these proper maintenance tips and damage-control strategies to keep your carpeted floors cozy, clean, and looking like new for years to come. —Anja Sonnenberg
21 Stunning Photos That Will Make You See America Differently
Photographer Jeffrey Milsten leant out of a helicopter to pay tribute to places “where humans gather”.
From Buzzfeed 1/14/16
New York photographer Jeffrey Milstein wanted to capture aerial photos of the places “where humans gather” across New York and California. His photo series Parks and Recreation features Milstein’s dizzying style of sky-high photography, created by leaning out of a helicopter.
Parks and Recreation shows public spaces like Times Square, Bryant Park, and Washington Park, museums and monuments like Griffith Observatory, the Getty Museum, and the Statue of Liberty, and sports and amusement parks like Venice skatepark, Santa Monica pier, and Coney Island.
Milstein told the Rex USA agency: “From earliest times people gathered in public spaces for community events, sharing of information, and sporting competition. Italian towns formed around public piazzas. The Greeks had the agora, the Acropolis, and outdoor theaters. Great cities like London and New York have devoted valuable land to public parks.”
Milstein was inspired to pay tribute to these open public spaces by research from Dr. Laura Payne of the University of Illinois, who says that people who take part in park activities have fewer doctor visits, a lower body mass index, and lower systolic blood pressure.
In case you haven’t noticed, burgers are not what they used to be. From gourmet to gross, burger joints across the country are working overtime trying to out top each other.
To b honest, no one is complaining, as burger fans rush to get their hands around the oddities. Yahoo Travel went in search of the wackiest toppings, the tallest towers of patties, the drippiest, the gooiest, and the most insane burgers in the country.
We looked for burgers that were crazy good as well as a few that are just plain crazy. Here is our list — approach with caution.
Flip Burger Boutique is Chef Richard Blais’ burger fantasyland. If you reside in the south, you won’t think his Southern Burger, that features a chicken-fried patty, sounds strange at all. It may actually be genius on a bun. Pass the gravy, please.
West Rib Pub & Grille has a burger on their menu called Seward’s Folly loaded with two pounds of caribou. The monster burger weighs in at almost five pounds with the toppings.
Monkey Burger is not for light eaters. Every burger on the menu looks over-sized, but the meltiness takes cheese to new levels. The 2/3 pound patty comes topped with four cheeses spilling over the plate.
Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries has a burger challenge for you. Wolf down their 55-ounce burger (that’s a mere 3.5 lbs.) in 30 minutes and it is on the house. Now that is crazy!
Most of the burgers at Burger Aptos look crazy good, but the Bluto Brutus triple-stacked burger topped with a fried egg is insane.
Crave Real Burgers is the place to go if the burger you crave uses grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. You can’t make this stuff up.
Oh wait, there is a burger battle brewing here. Artisanal Burger Company also serves a burger slapped between grilled cheese sandwiches.
We know that Wayback Burgers is spreading across the country like wildfire, but it all started in Delaware, so we’re giving them credit for creating the Triple Triple. Nine patties. Nine slices of cheese.
Burger n Beer Joint leaves us wondering where to begin with the crazy toppings on the menu. The grilled shrimp looks like a good idea, as does the fois gras. But don’t attempt the ten-pound Motherburger unless you bring friends.
It’s basically the Chrysler Building of the burger world. (Photo: Tower Burgers)
Tower Burgers serves up a giant tower of meat and toppings between Texas Toast that is crazy huge, but if that’s not odd enough for you, check out the donut and bacon burger.
Stewz Maui Burgers made our list with their triple stack of six-ounce patties, but the Wailuku smothered in brown gravy is rather off-the-wall too, don’t you think?
Grind Modern Burger is a case of gourmet burgers slipping beyond the norm. Their DMZ burger is braised beef rib topped with Kimchi slaw and Saigon sauce.
Where do you even begin with the craziness going on at Burger Bar Chicago? The prosciutto and fried egg-topped Fa-getta-bod-it burger or the High Hog BBQ pork and bacon burger are both good places to start.
Bru Burger Baris a small chain of gourmet burger restaurants with some amazing toppings on most of their burgers. We’re calling them crazy for their Farmstead burger topped with Brussel sprouts. Not going there.
Burgers sandwiched between deep-fried macaroni patties and other insane creations at Zombie Burger. (Photo: Yelp)
You know you are in for a crazy meal with a name like Zombie Burger, but are you prepared for the invasion of deep-fried macaroni and cheese burger? Perhaps you would feel safer with the UN-dead Elvis burger slathered with peanut butter, fried bananas, bacon, eggs, and cheese.
Bayou Burger is where you go for your favorite alligator burger. Not for you? Maybe you would prefer the deep-fried burger topped with fried pickles and fried onions.
Nosh Kitchen Bar in Portland takes junk food to new places with the Slab Burger using pizza slabs in place of the bun.
Mother’s Grille has so many crazy burgers on the menu you can go crazy trying to decide. Maybe you want your burger topped with crabmeat, or maybe with a chilidog. The ultimate craziness here though, is appropriately called the Heart attack—deep-fried and oozing with cheese.
Eagle’s Deli is the place to go if you are in the mood for an enormous burger. The big boys here start at one pound and go all the way up to a six-pound monster loaded with twenty-four slices of bacon and twenty-four slices of cheese.
Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar practically invented the crazy burger in the form of the world’s largest burger—certified by Guinness Book of World Records.
Burger Jones’ White Trash Burger features fried bacon, fried cheese curds, Velveeta and no mercy. (Photo: lynnegetsfit/Instagram)
Burger Jones has some good-looking burgers on the menu, but our attention focused on something called the White Trash Double Wide topped with chicken-fried bacon, fried cheese curds, and Velveeta.
Burgers & Blues serves up a hot mess on a plate they call the Fry Burger—topped with Ranch dressing, bacon, jalapenos, American cheese, queso cheese, with fries piled on top for good measure.
Compared to some of the wacky burgers in the country, Krumbly Burger’s loose meat burgers seem pretty tame—just oddly different. Once you have had your burger this way, you may never go back.
Heap Burger’s menu is relatively normal, until you get to the fall special topped with spaghetti squash and maple syrup in addition to bacon and cheese.
The Gluttony Burger with its grilled cheese buns, double patties, bacon, and even more cheese will have you feeling appropriately sinful. (Photo: Yelp)
Sinful Burger labels their burgers with the seven deadly sins. Greed and Gluttony top the list of crazy burgers here.
What would a list of way-out burgers be without an insanely expensive burger? Burger Brasserie at Paris Las Vegas serves up what may be the priciest burger in the country. The 777 burger has a jackpot price tag of, you guessed it — $777. Yikes! At least it comes with a bottle of Dom.
Papa Joe’s Humble Kitchen serves a burger destined for your arteries. The secret ingredient on Skip’s Cardiac Burger is the salami.
Urban Burger seems like any other upscale burger bar until you see the crabby patty—topped with a crab patty, avocado, Pico de galleo, and chipotle sour cream.
When in New Mexico, do as the locals do and chow down on a green chili cheeseburger. (Photo: Santa Fe Bite)
In New Mexico, there apparently is no need for burger shenanigans because the world’s best burger comes from here—the green chili cheeseburger. If you visit the Land of Enchantment and do not try one, you are certifiable. There are several standouts across the state, including Dave’s Burgers & More, Buckhorn Tavern, and Santa Fe Bite.
Want caviar on your burger? Serendipity 3 thinks you are not crazy at all. They have you covered.
Burger Warfare Gets extra points for burgers with wacky names. We especially like the Cuban Missile Crisis—chorizo between two patties, topped with Paprika Mojo sauce, and shoestring potatoes.
Sickies Garage has a signature burger that combines breakfast and lunch unlike any brunch we have ever encountered. The burger comes topped with bacon, fried egg, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and onion rings. Is that one meal or three?
Thurman Cafe is home o the Thurminator, a colossal burger that’s made of (take a deep breath): TWO 12 oz. burgers, mushrooms, onions, ham, bacon, lettuce tomato, pickle, banana peppers, mayo, cheddar, mozzarella, and American cheese!
Little Mike’s Hamburgers serves the original onion-fried burger. The oddity here is something called a Caesar that overflows the bun with made-fresh Caesar dressing.
Reverend’s BBQ serves something called The Good Reverend Burger—burnt brisket ends and pimento cheese. Alrighty then.
PYT serves up a crazy burger special every week, like this Thanksgiving burger, complete with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. (Photo: Jessica Rossi/Flickr)
PYT is a seriously demented burger joint. The geniuses here combine wacky things every week into something burger-like. Think Eggo sliders and Coco Krispies in a chicken burger.
Crazy Burger definitely has some interesting combinations on the menu. The Whassupy Burger, spiced with wasabi powder and topped with wasabi-chipotle mayo is at the top of the list of uniqueness.
Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. might have some of the best burgers west of the Mississippi, but the Hot Granny lets you live on the wild side—topped with bacon, cream cheese, fresh jalapenos, and sweet jalapeno jelly.
Can you take down the Kookamonga Challenge? (Photo: Kooky Canuck)
Kooky Canuck serves up the Kookamonga Challenge of a 7.5 pound, 12,000 calorie whopper. Eat in an hour and it’s free.
Arnold Burgers is an unassuming burger joint in Amarillo where you order by the inch. Feed the gang with burgers sized between 9 and 24 inches. Or order a Texas-shaped or holiday bun just for fun. How many burger joints do you know with a Pinterest page?
Burger Bar Utah is not your average drive-in. This is the place to try exotic meat burgers like elk or goat.
Tipsy Cow Burger Bar feeds your alter ego. Here is what they have for the rock star hiding within: a 7-ounce patty topped with brew-battered and fried bacon, maple syrup, white cheddar, fried egg, caramelized onion, and lettuce and tomato, of course.
Fat Patty’s has a name that is a huge clue to the strange delights that await you between buns. How about the Raspberry Popper Burger or maybe the Lasso Patty that puts the ham back in hamburger before drenching it in BBQ sauce?
At Spats Food & Spirits, the Irish weigh in with their own burger here topped with corned beef and sauerkraut.
The Bird serves burgers with interesting names like “Ghetto on a good day,” “filthy harry,” and “the big crack,” which comes so loaded with toppings that they can’t even tell you what they are.
The house used as the home of the killer Buffalo Bill in the 1991 film “The Silence of the Lambs” is for sale near Perryopolis, Pa.Credit Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Since it was listed for sale last summer, a century-old house made famous as the home of a serial killer in the 1991 movie “The Silence of the Lambs” has attracted plenty of curiosity, but it has mostly languished on the real estate market.
The home, located in the village of Layton, Pa., was first put up for sale last August. Over the past few months, the house has attracted plenty of interest online: It was the second most-clicked home on Realtor.com last year, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, but it has failed to attract people who might actually want to buy it. The owners have since dropped the price to $249,900 from $300,000.
Though it was the setting for a movie that won in each of the so-called big five Academy Award categories, there’s not much action in this community an hour south of Pittsburgh, which might be the reason a home with Hollywood cachet is failing to sell. Photos of the home show a sun-drenched yard, a pool and clean bedrooms, a departure from the cluttered, gray interior of a home used by one of the film’s villains.
Nearby, there’s a creepy-looking tunnel, which some visitors suspect is haunted. There’s an old, rusty bridge that crosses the Youghiogheny River and serves as the main access route to the nearby town of Perryopolis. The isolated location is perhaps the perfect place for a fictional killer to set up shop, but for real (and sane) buyers, the amenities may fall short.
As some observers on social media pointed out, the home may be overpriced. The property is listed well above the median listing price for Pennsylvania, which, according to Realtor.com, is $149,900. Still, others were intrigued by the home’s gory lore.
“I’ll take it if it comes with a pit …?” another person wrote, referencing the basement of Buffalo Bill, the serial killer who kept his prey in a lair beneath the home in the film. (No such luck — the pit in the basement was filmed on a soundstage, The Associated Press reported.)
Homes with pop culture cachet often have mixed results on the market. The Minneapolis home used in Prince’s ”Purple Rain” movie was sold for $117,000 about a month after it was listed for sale at $110,000 last July, according to Zillow. The Los Angeles home featured in the comedy “Modern Family” had a similar turnaround period, selling for $2.1 million.
When it comes to safety, dollar-store deals might not be a bargain after all. Recent testing of their products found that 81% contained one or more hazardous chemicals. The tests, conducted by the consumer testing group Healthy Stuff, found chemicals associated with cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, thyroid and kidney diseases, learning problems, lower IQ, birth defects and early puberty. Here are 10 items you’re better off buying elsewhere.