Need Advice--Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Len-VA

Posted by John on August 06, 2005 at 09:48:54:

Great way to handle it.

Need Advice–Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Len-VA

Posted by Len-VA on August 05, 2005 at 14:57:10:

First of all, sorry this post is so long.

Second, this board is a great resource for information–thanks to all who give of their time and experience.

One source of deals–the owner of a lawn service–approached me with the following dilemma…

One of his lawn clients is an elderly (90 y.o.)lady who has offered to sell her house (at a GREAT price) to my friend Joe. However, she only wants Joe or his daughter to buy it because she believes it would be a great place for Joe’s daughter to live in. The daughter is not interested, as she already has a house, and Joe doesn’t have the time to take on another property right now.

The seller has turned down several offers from neighbors and has told them of her desire to do this for Joe and Joe alone.

In talking this over with Joe, it is clear that he DOES NOT intend to mislead this lady just to get the house for two reasons:

  1. It’s not his way of operating to not tell the truth in all his dealings and

  2. He has 30 clients for his lawn business in this lady’s neighborhood alone–another of whom wants to sell her house to Joe too–and he believes (as I do) that if he misleads the elderly neighbor to get the house, that will damage his reputation and his very successful lawn business, both of which are currently platinum.

Does anyone have any insight on how to navigate this minefield?

Thanks in advance for your help!


Re: Need Advice–Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Len-VA

Posted by Len-VA on August 08, 2005 at 16:29:25:

Thanks for the great ideas everyone! I’ll take them to Joe and see what he thinks. There may still be a way for this to work for him.


Re:Ethics Question - Posted by Cathleen(TX)

Posted by Cathleen(TX) on August 06, 2005 at 12:54:05:

Doesnt Joe know someone that needs a place to live? I am thinking that if Joe explains to the woman that he could use the house to help out a friend, that he appreciates her generosity and that he would not do anything to change the house ( elderly people are so emotionally attached to their homes that their main concern is that the next owner loves their home as much as they did- she must feel that Joe loves her house as he has cared for it by doing the landscape maint. all these years) Does she need to move? Or, could Joe explain that he would like to buy it and allow her to stay as long as she would like to. They could agree to his ownership of it which would be financed at a later date and allow her to do a reverse mortgage in the meantime to access her money.

Re: Need Advice–Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Mr. Big

Posted by Mr. Big on August 06, 2005 at 07:32:45:

He should decline the offer with thanks.

If he has already done this, and she continues to believe that he will buy the property, or that he ought to, then she may not be entirely rational.

In that case it might be a good idea to talk to her relatives, her doctor lawyer or other adviser and have them look into the question of her mental condition.

Re: Need Advice–Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Sage (CT)

Posted by Sage (CT) on August 06, 2005 at 06:58:47:

It is apparent that the woman wants Joe (or his daughter) to benefit from her house. Perhaps he could explain to her that while neither he nor his daughter are in a position to take the house it would have great value to him as an investment. That way he is not deceiving her in any way and she still ends up knowing she is benefiting Joe. That is how I would approach it. My two cents anyway.

Re: Need Advice–Ethics Question (Long) - Posted by Tom-FL

Posted by Tom-FL on August 05, 2005 at 20:57:25:

I see two possibilities here.

a) Respectfully decline the offer.
b) Joe’s daughter buys and resides in the house and sells or rents her existing house. If she has up to 250k in equity for a single or 500k for a married filing jointly, the sale of the existing house could be tax free. Perhaps a tidy windfall for the daughter.