Would you like to subscribe to our newsletters?

Housing co-ownership matchmaking service advancing in Kamloops, Okanagan

Image Credit: Pexels/Fauxels

With skyrocketing housing prices throughout the country, more and more people are looking at sharing ownership in order to be able to get into the market.

A Vancouver-based company that takes many of the risks out of that process by setting up matchmaking and “marriage” consulting services are slowing making inroads into the Okanagan and Kamloops areas.

“It happened for generations on its own,” Noam Dolgin, a realtor and co-founder of CoHo B.C. – Collaborative Home Ownership, told “The reason CoHo came together was because it was happening independently. People were doing it and coming to lawyers after the fact or going to the wrong lawyers who didn’t actually know how to do cohabitation stuff. We knew it was happening so thought, let’s guide people through it and do it properly.”

Jenn Koh is the firm’s first Okanagan customer (there’s also interest in the Cariboo and Kootenays) and has placed a classified ad on its matchmaking page.

She’s toying with the idea of some sort of “intentional community” where like-minded people join together in a cooperative and sustainable effort that usually includes some farming and sharing of services.

That could take the form of joint ownership of land or separate ownership of parcels with some connection to each other.

It’s in a very preliminary stage but one thing Koh is very clear about is the need to have the legalities and relationships clearly set out in advance, which is why she consulted CoHO.

“Whenever there are assets involved, one needs to be wise,” she told “I don’t think you can go into anything like this with your eyes closed and just think of the rosy aspects of it. I think you need to be very practical and have your feet on the ground and have it all legally done right because you know, life happens. Something might happen that somebody needs to leave. How do you do exits? You need to find a replacement. It can, potentially, be pretty complicated.”

That’s no more evident than a recent court case out of Quesnel where two like-minded couples, who were good friends, bought land jointly with no formal rules.

Within 18 months it fell apart, there were threats of physical violence, chicken carcases were thrown in a river where people were swimming and they filed charges of defamation against each other.

READ MORE: B.C. communal living turns sour as 'off-grid' couples end up in court battle

That’s what CoHo is designed to avoid, Dolgin said, describing the process as very much a courtship and marriage but with a prenuptial agreement firmly in place first.

“The first level is dating,” he said. “You date the people and you date the housing. You go and look at what kind of housing is available that suits your needs and your budget and is shareable and you look for people who will match you and complement you in that housing type.

“Then you go through the whole engagement phase. You’re talking about your finances. You’re talking about how late you stay up at night. You talk about how good you are about taking the garbage out and mowing the lawn. You talk about whether you’re planning on having children. Then you draft a legal agreement.”

That agreement isn’t actually signed until the property is purchased.

“It’s like a marriage but it’s not like a marriage until death do you part – it might be – but you go in there knowing you’re going to end it at some point so you’re not insulted by the idea of a prenup, which is what this legal part of it is,” Dolgin said. “The divorce ends up being quite simple down the road because you’ve had all the proper conversations, if and when it’s time.”

The firm was set up in 2018 with the matchmaking side added in the past year.

Koh’s idea for an “intentional community” is not the norm.

More often it's friends, families or neighbours who join together to buy a shared property, maybe a home with a suite or a duplex, that gets them all into a larger home than either would be able to afford on their own.

The firm has also handled larger, more complicated arrangements, such as brokering a deal with eight strangers to buy eight homes at Horseshoe Bay Cottages.

Less often, it’s a group of people who live together in the same space.

“Some people are looking to live collectively,” Dolgin said. “It’s cheaper and, let’s say you’re a first time home buyer and you’re going to be living with roommates anyway in your 20s, you can’t afford a one-bedroom condo but you can afford to share a two-bedroom townhouse or a three- or four-bedroom house.”

READ MORE: Lower Mainland buyers flooding Okanagan’s new home market

And there's a much more thorough vetting of neighbours than typically happens when people buy property.

“You’re often in a much better situation than you are in a condo or a stratified half-duplex or a townhouse where you have no control over your neighbours,” Dolgin said. “You have some condo rules and things like that but, really, you haven’t met your neighbours in advance. You buy in and you don’t know who’s right next door. Here, you’ve met your neighbour beforehand.”

There is a fee for the matchmaking service that Dolgin didn’t want to specify. Some costs are covered by the sellers of the property but the lawyer will cost $2,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the deal.

Their services include a range of expertise.

“We’re helping them with lawyers who understand the questions to ask, financiers who understand the process, realtors who aren’t just trying to get a quick sale but know this is a longer process and know which properties actually, effectively, are shareable and things like that,” Dolgin said.

And it seems to be working.

“When you talk to the lawyers who do this work, and you ask them questions about how often do you have people come back to them with problems, they say: ‘Back to us? Almost never,’” Dolgin said. “If you’ve done the work in advance and you’ve got the agreement, you’ve got the mechanism to resolve disputes. You know what the rules are and it’s pretty easy.”

For more information on CoHo B.C. and to see Koh’s ad, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.