Q: My brother-in-law, my sister and I bought a house together 2 1/2 years ago. According to my brother-in-law, he’ll need to refinance in 3 years.
But I recently got married, so I need to buy my own house, and I want him to refinance now so I get off the mortgage and get my share of the profits.
The house cost $375,000 and is now worth $450,000. My brother-in-law says he wants to get a loan to pay me off, but says the bank won’t deal with him until my name is off the house. He has offered me $11,000 cash to walk away. What do you think?
A: I think your brother-in-law is ripping you off.
The house is worth $75,000 more than you paid for it. It’s obviously appreciating in value. If you own one-third of the property, you should get back $25,000 of profits plus whatever cash you put into the house as a down payment. If you own half of the house, you should get $37,500 plus your share of any money you put down. The real question you have to ask is what is your percentage ownership of the house?
I wouldn’t accept less than your fair share and I would only agree to transfer your ownership of the home simultaneously with the payment of your share of the profits and any downpayment you put into the home. If they do not agree to this deal, you will need to hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf and you may even need to hire an attorney to write up the agreement so that everybody understands exactly what you are to receive and when, so you don’t get ripped off.
Under no circumstances should you agree to give up your ownership in the property without getting paid in cash. Do not sign a quitclaim deed until the check clears and you have the cash in your bank account.
This may seem overly protective, I’ve seen a lot of cases like yours and you’re the odd person out. Your sister will likely take your brother-in-law’s side if it gets ugly. Your name on the deed is your only leverage in this situation.
While I’m sorry to think the worst of your brother-in-law, he’s not acting honorably. You helped them out when they needed it, now they should make you an honest offer to buy you out.
Empower yourself! Good luck.