Cutting the Strings

Charles-DickensSometimes being a Realtor can have its heart-wrenching moments. I encountered a situation today that is yet another repeat of similar meetings. A sweet older couple who about five years ago thought they were helping their thirty-something child by co-signing on a mortgage and as well had their names on the deed. After visiting with them, I found that their child is no longer living in the property and un-able to be reached while the spouse remains in possession and unwilling to move.

The mortgage payments were many months behind and the parents thought they were doing the right thing by bringing the payments current. The elderly parents have nearly drained their financial resources and looking for some sort of guidance out of this terrible situation.  Unfortunately, they will be spending thousands of dollars in attempts to get their names off title and loan. In the end, nearly all their efforts will be in vain. They did say they cannot afford to make anymore payments so likely the home will be foreclosed on, so when it’s all over, everyone loses.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have cautioned family members wanting to help their children by co-signing on notes and mortgages. It may sound hard, but I believe if a grown child who wants to purchase a home but cannot stand on his or her financial feet alone, then it just isn’t time to buy.

I have no problem with parents helping with down payments on homes because it is money that is either given with hopes of re-payment or will likely be chalked up as an early gift or one of life’s lessons. Too many parents and relatives believe it’s their duty to help their children and relatives. There are those crisis times when family’s should step in to help but not when there are alternatives. That child of this elderly couple was not homeless nor jobless, but rather wanting something better at the parents expense. I would almost guarantee than no one attempted to give council to the parents regarding the “what ifs” should things start going wrong. I do hope after my long conversation with them today, they take an active step in cutting the financial strings with their child. That child has long over-due lessons to be learned.