How to Combine Two Households

Merging two families into one home raises where-to-live questions. Whether you're getting married, moving your elderly parents into your home or combining your household with that of any friend, family member or loved one, merging households presents a number of important issues. Here are 11 issues you'll need to think about and discuss with your new housemates:

Selling Your Current Homes
1. If you and your new housemate both own your own homes, should you sell your home, his or her home or both of your homes?

2. If you decide to sell one or both of your homes, will you owe capital gains taxes? If so, you should consult a tax advisor about strategies to minimize your tax liability.

3. If your decisions involve the sale or purchase of more than one home, you may want to consider hiring the same REALTOR® for multiple transactions. You may want to see if you can negotiate a commission discount.

4. It's also a good idea to time your transactions to minimize the hassles and expenses of moving. You may need to arrange temporary housing or make multiple mortgage payments.

Buying Your New Home
5. If you decide to buy a new home together, consider if you want to re-invest all of the equity from the homes you sold or if you want to set aside some of the cash for other uses.

6. If you decide to buy, how much will you feel comfortable spending? Be sure to include homeowner's insurance, maintenance, utilities and property taxes as well as the monthly mortgage payment in your calculations.

7. If you buy a new home, how will you hold title to that property? You may want to consult an attorney about the options, especially if you have children from prior marriages.

Assessing Your Housing Needs
8. It sounds basic, but when combining households it's a good idea to discuss where the parties involved want to live. And once you've selected a city or town, which neighborhoods do you prefer in that locale?

9. If you have children or you're planning to start a family, do you need to live in a certain school district? Even if children are not quite on your horizon, a good school district can mean strong resale value.

10. How large a home do you need to buy to accommodate your current and future needs? It's often a good idea to plan ahead.

11. If your new home won't be large enough to fit all your belongings, discuss what should you store, sell, donate, give away or discard before you move into your new home. You may want to rent a storage facility until you get settled and have time to dispose of individual items.

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