Buying a home from a seller with dementia

7 Replies

Hey BP, 

I’m in a bit of a situation and I know the route I’m going to take. Just wanted to see other solutions and see what people have done in this situation exactly. 

I was contacted by a homeowner after I sent out a direct mail piece. We spoke for 55 minutes! 
She was a very nice woman and wants to sell her house. I noticed on the phone she repeated herself and lost her train of thought a few times. I knew something was up but I wasn’t sure. I set an appointment to meet with her today at 2 pm, not more than 2 hours after I got off the phone with her. When I showed up to her house to walk the property she was distraught. 

I rang the bell and she walked up with a smile and I said hey Mary, we just spoke. She goes who are you? I explained we just spoke for an hour before and I said I’d be here by 2. She had no idea who I was and said she didn’t speak to anyone today. I told her no problem to take my card then and we’ll talk later. 

She saw my card and recognized the last name and remembered speaking to me for a few today. She then invited me in and insisted that I shouldn’t and she said no please come in I just want this house sold. 

I walk the house and asked if we can call her daughter together so we can speak. She said what does she have to do with anything and told me she can handle it herself. The house needs quite a bit of work, typical carpet in the bathroom and all that. Probably about 50k. No problem with that but I came up with a price and didn’t feel comfortable with sharing it with her. 

So my next steps are to get the daughter number and give her a call and let her know what is going on with her mother, the daughter lives in Oregon and we are in NJ.  I’m worried for her because someone is gonna take total advantage of this woman. I don’t feel comfortable making any decisions with her until I speak to someone of able mind to help her. I know others would just have her sign and not care. 

So what would you guys do in this situation?

I agree that speaking with the daughter is a good idea.

I have a feeling if you wish to continue with this owner there are going to be many challenges to getting the purchase finally completed.  You may, along, the way, simply give up attempting to complete this.

Originally posted by @Dennis Yosco :

Hey BP, 

I’m in a bit of a situation and I know the route I’m going to take. Just wanted to see other solutions and see what people have done in this situation exactly. 

I was contacted by a homeowner after I sent out a direct mail piece. We spoke for 55 minutes! 
She was a very nice woman and wants to sell her house. I noticed on the phone she repeated herself and lost her train of thought a few times. I knew something was up but I wasn’t sure. I set an appointment to meet with her today at 2 pm, not more than 2 hours after I got off the phone with her. When I showed up to her house to walk the property she was distraught. 

I rang the bell and she walked up with a smile and I said hey Mary, we just spoke. She goes who are you? I explained we just spoke for an hour before and I said I’d be here by 2. She had no idea who I was and said she didn’t speak to anyone today. I told her no problem to take my card then and we’ll talk later. 

She saw my card and recognized the last name and remembered speaking to me for a few today. She then invited me in and insisted that I shouldn’t and she said no please come in I just want this house sold. 

I walk the house and asked if we can call her daughter together so we can speak. She said what does she have to do with anything and told me she can handle it herself. The house needs quite a bit of work, typical carpet in the bathroom and all that. Probably about 50k. No problem with that but I came up with a price and didn’t feel comfortable with sharing it with her. 

So my next steps are to get the daughter number and give her a call and let her know what is going on with her mother, the daughter lives in Oregon and we are in NJ.  I’m worried for her because someone is gonna take total advantage of this woman. I don’t feel comfortable making any decisions with her until I speak to someone of able mind to help her. I know others would just have her sign and not care. 

So what would you guys do in this situation?

 Thank God you are good person. Half the wholesalers out there would steam roll over her and steal her house. It is smart to back off, because these types of situations can land wholesalers in legal trouble. Signing contracts with people who you know have diminished mental capacity can be invalidated. It is entirely possible that someone has power of attorney over her affairs. If the daughter doesn't, she needs to do so ASAP. Old people have been known to sell their home, even though they have nowhere to live! It is horrible, but that is what this disease does to people.

My aunt has dementia. You can talk to her for 30 minutes and think she is completely normal, then she starts repeating herself. Even in that first thirty minutes she will talk about her husband and career as a legal secretary, even though her husband has been dead 30 years and she hasn't been a secretary for 20 years. A stranger wouldn't know that. 

Thanks for doing the right thing.  

Thanks all for the replies.

While I would love the house, it’s a cape in my town, I don’t feel ethical buying it. My goal for her is to get her the help she needs. So I’m going to reach out to the daughter and make sure she knows the situation. If she doesn’t then I want to inform her. I just don’t want someone else to try to steal the house. 

It’s a real sad situation because I can see she has been trying to keep it all together by putting notes all over the house. Some plumbers scammed her for 4K. She said she wants to sell her house to get her 4K back. If someone else heard that, I know they would just write up anything. 

Unless someone has POA, this deal is close to impossible since she lacks mental capacity to enter into a contract. If her mental capacity is currently impaired, she will be unable to legally grant a POA. Her daughter would have to petiion the court to have her mother declared incompetent and then the court might retain some control over the management of her assets. This will be a mess.