Buying mom’s house, a friend’s new real estate license


Dear David,

Our family has precious memories of the family home. Now that Mom is going into a nursing home, I would like to buy the property so our family can hold on to it. How can I do that? – KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

DEAR KEEPING: I appreciate your desire to preserve the fond memories associated with your family home. However, if you are seriously considering buying the property, you’ll want to make sure that it’s the right house for you and that you’re buying it for the right reasons.

Does the home align with your financial situation and suit your current circumstances? A mismatch on either of these fronts might be a reason to consider other properties if you’re ready to make a move. You’ll also want to rule out whether there are other parties (perhaps a brother or sister) who have also been toying with the idea of buying the house.

If the home is a good choice for you and your family is in agreement that you should be free to buy it, your next step is to establish value. My suggestion would be that you have two separate, independent appraisals done (not “free” market assessments by Realtors), then average them together to establish a fair price.

Appraisals are subjective and as such, may come in at slightly different values. By making the small investment in two separate appraisals, you can honour your mother’s investment, keep your motives transparent and preserve the family harmony you obviously hold dear.

Dear David,

My friend just got her real estate license. We are ready to sell our $750,000 home and will need a Realtor, but I don’t think she is experienced enough. Any thoughts on how to handle this? – NERVOUS

DEAR NERVOUS: Congratulations on your decision to sell! While an upcoming move is exciting, this is a business decision first and foremost. In order to generate the highest return on your investment, keep the peace and also support someone close to you, you could co-list your home between your friend and another experienced agent.

Co-listing offers peace of mind in the knowledge that your transaction will be carried out with the experience it deserves, without you having to make a difficult decision about whether or not to hire your friend. I’ve participated in these types of arrangements a number of times. Similar to mentoring, they generally work out well for all involved. For agents, co-listing means that there is someone to share the work and the expenses. As a client, it ensures your best interests are taken into account, without changing your bottom line or risking your largest asset. It sounds like supporting your friend is important to you, which I respect. At the same time, if you had $750,000 to invest in the stock market, you would have a hard time trusting a first-time investor. Think of co-listing as a way to hedge your bets. Things might turn out okay otherwise, but there is something to be said for having years of experience under your belt. #AskDavid