Steps to take before making a joint purchase

These are some of the basic needs Ms. Rosenthal lists for entering shared ownership. You must:

* Make sure you and your partner trust each other.

* Agree with your partner on whether the property is for personal use only, or whether it may be rented out.

* Establish basic rules governing how the co-owned property is to be cared for (including provisions for maintenance and repairs), who uses it when, and the shape it is to be in when handed over.

* Set regular times to talk about your partnership.

* Learn how to talk to your partner and when.

* Decide whether a lawyer should check over a written agreement.

* Not jeopardize the partnership by putting too much emphasis on minor inconveniences.

Finally, as Ms. Rosenthal puts it: ''If the shoe fits, share it.''

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