Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“My mother owns a two family house with her brother in law that is fully paid for, so presently their is no mortgage. They both are presently living in the house. He recently remarried and his wife wants to sell his half of the house so they can buy another house out of state. My mother does not want to sell. I was thinking of buying his half so my mother could continue to live there and rent it out to my sister. ( or would it be better if she bought him out)? Do I need an attorney, and how do you go about doing this legally? How do I determine a fair price especially since it is an old house and I do not want to over pay for it? His wife is hungry for money and is already over estimating the value of the home. The house is in a commercial area, does not have a drive way, and most of the houses around it have been on the market for more than a year. The neighborhood isn’t that great either. Shouldn’t that be taken into consideration when I try to negotiate price to buy?”You are probably not legally required to have an attorney for this transaction, but it would be a very good idea to have one. The cost of an attorney who can properly draft the necessary paperwork will be more than made up for on the back end if something goes wrong.
Question: Whether it would be better for you to buy and have your sister rent, or for her to buy directly, is mainly a financial question. It depends on your financial situations and also your tax positions.
As for valuing the purchase, that is a tricky business. There are professionals whose job is to put values on real estate. They are called appraisers, and you could agree to hire one and buy at the appraised value. An appraiser would likely take into consideration the factors that you mentioned, as well as the fact that you’re only buying a part interest in the property. However, if you don’t want to pay for an appraiser, it’s pretty much down to what the parties agree to.