Q: My grandmother wants to sell her condo to me at a great price. The problem is that she is not on title nor is she on the loan, although she has been the one living in the apartment of two of the past five years. She bought the condo ten years ago.
Two of her daughters and a son-in-law are on the title and on the loan. She wants to sell it to me but is afraid that her daughters will have to pay capital gains tax since they are not the ones who have been living in the condo.
Is there any way everyone can avoid paying tax? Can she just sell the condo for the price she paid for it ten years ago and avoid capital gains? Please help me. Thank you very much.
A: First, your grandmother cannot sell something she doesn’t own. So, if she sold or gave the condo to her daughters, and they are on title and on the loan, she doesn’t have any say at all in what happens to it. On the other hand, she won’t owe any taxes if it does sell. Your aunts and uncle, on the other hand, might.
You need to have a conversation with your aunts about buying the condo from them. If your grandmother hasn’t been paying any of the expenses of the condo, then her daughters may be delighted to have the expense and responsibility of the property off of their hands.
I have two questions for you that you need to answer before this transaction can take place. First, if you buy the condo, where is your grandmother going to live? Is she moving into a nursing home or with her children? Or, is she planning to stay in the condominium with you?
Second, I understand that you’re thinking about capital gains tax that may be owed on this unit. While buying it at the price your grandmother paid for it 10 years ago sounds like a good plan, whether it will work depends on how much the property has appreciated in value.
Will your aunts want to sell to you at a price that’s 10 years old? If the property has doubled in value, they may want their share of that price appreciation, especially if they have been paying all of the expenses associated with the property. There may be other legal consequences to selling you the home at a very reduced price. If you decide to go that route, you should talk to a good accountant about the tax consequences of purchasing the home at a less-than-market-value price.
However, once your aunts set the price, you’ll be able to start shopping around for a loan, unless they agree to carry back the mortgage. Hopefully you’ll qualify for an amount that will allow you to buy the property.