Helping Family

October 19th, 2009, by

Q: In 2007, my brother was getting a divorce and did not know where he would live. He had no money to rent an apartment. I decided to purchase a townhouse for him. Now the house that he owned, and sold at the time of his divorce, is up for sale–with a significant price drop.

My brother wants to move back into that house, but I would have to sell the townhouse I bought him in order for him to buy his previous home. My real estate agent thinks that it would be a good idea, because there is more equity potential when the market turns around. I am reluctant because:

  1. I would have to spend some money to fix the townhouse; and
  2. I would have to spend more of my own money.

My question is should I? I feel conflicted, since my brother does not take care of his house very well.

A visitor, Skokie, IL

A: Seriously, why are you playing mama to your brother?

There are three key facts you mentioned that would stop me cold.

  1. Your brother has no money.
  2. Your brother didn’t take care of the townhouse, resulting in you having to pay to fix it up, if you do sell.
  3. You have to sink more of your own money into taking care of a grown man.

Look, you were being a generous sister in helping your brother through a rough time. I get that. But this deal has so many red flags. And, just as an aside, don’t rely solely on the advice of your real estate agent, who is so biased in this situation.

If it were me, I would only sell if my brother fixed up the townhouse with his own money and came up with whatever cash is needed to buy the other home. Otherwise, let this man be a man and take care of his own financial house.

(Photo by BisForBabb)

Last modified: April 27, 2011 at 3:28 pm