Can I help an old woman stay in her house?

25 Replies

I was out looking at single families and duplex's today.  My first day out looking seriously at homes.  One home I came across had the owner still there when we went in to inspect.  It turns out I know this woman from church, although she doesn't remember me.  She is probably 80 years old or so, has COPD with oxygen and is not very mobile aside from moving around her small cape.  She told me that she has to sell her home, but she has no place to live after it sells but she just can no longer afford to live there.  The home was updated in the 80's and is definitely an old lady home but aside from cosmetics it is in pretty good shape.  I went to the town and found out she has about $5K of tax liens and my realtor said she took out an $85K mortgage in 2010 to pay her husbands medical bills.  She told me that she makes $1,800 in monthly SS income.  The house was originally listed for $139K but is now down to $119K.  I am trying to figure out a way to help this lady by letting her stay in her home for the foreseeable future, but also so I can make this deal profitable.  After commission and what she owes on her place she will probably need around $100K from the sale.  If I went in after she passes away (whenever that may be) I would put new carpeting, paint, fixtures etc and have it rent out at about $1200/month.  I couldn't do any of those improvements now because she is living there and has boxes and stuff everywhere, so a refi may not work quite yet because I cant rehab it while she is there.  Any creative ways that I could both make money and also help an old lady stay in her lifetime home?  Thanks,

You can purchase it at a price that is low enough, to allow you to offer an inexpensive rent for the foreseeable future. For example, if you get an extra $30k in equity, it may be worth it to rent it back to her for a $250 monthly discount from market rent. This is a gamble though, because you are not sure how long she will be alive for, and you cannot foresee future market conditions.

You would need to compare ARV, with market rents, and the rent she can afford. you will have to purchase cheap enough that you still generate adequate cash flow from it.

if you are asking about letting her live for free...well that's just donating to charity.

No definitely wouldn't let her live for free, but I am wondering how it would work if I purchased it below what she owes on the mortgage to make it worth it to me, would that then require bank approval as a short sale?

Could I help her by getting her qualified for Section 8?  Or would the property have to be too perfect (which I cant do while she is in there) for it to qualify?

You could look into offering a lower price on the home and then offering to rent the property back to her at below market rent. It'd be important to know exactly what she owes on the home to see what sort of offer you can make to still make it a standard sale and if that offer makes sense based on its current value. 

thanks I will look into that, I appreciate your help,


If it helps it is very rare that any patient on oxygen will survive longer than 5 years. Find out how long she has been on it and you will know how long she has left to live.

Is there any chance that you could buy it and get her a roommate? Perhaps she would agree to let you clean up/renovate the common areas (living room, kitchen, bathroom), and you could get a second tenant to bring the income up to a reasonable level. You mentioned she was from your church; maybe there is someone else at the same church who is also looking for an inexpensive, flexible living arrangement. Depending on the floor plan and number of bedrooms you may be able to get two additional renters. If you do short term leases, you will then have the flexibility to do something else with the property when the time is right. 

This doesn’t really help you but can’t she just find a roommate to help with cost?

Only one option.   Buy the house.    Everything esle is silly.  You want to be involved in a old womans demise?

Talk to her lender about doing a short sale. Or buy the tax lien when it comes up and foreclose. At that point Section 8 approval for her should be quick, as she's technically homeless. Then let her stay as a tenant. Just throwing out ideas. Sounds like you could really help her, she's lucky you walked in her door.

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thank you sveryine, I am going to explore some of these options and see what I can come up with.  I will update this post if I can work something out to let you know.  thank you again, I really appreciate it

This kind of complicated deal is mind bogging. I know you want to help an older lady. My take is she needs to live in an assistant housing. If she is not willing to explore do not waste your time. Move on. You are not her social worker.

If her house is more than one bedroom, she wouldn't qualify for it on section 8.
Originally posted by @Sam Shueh :

This kind of complicated deal is mind bogging. I know you want to help an older lady. My take is she needs to live in an assistant housing. If she is not willing to explore do not waste your time. Move on. You are not her social worker.

 Thank YOU.  This is so silly trying to make $$$$$ on an old ladys demise.   Im offended being an old lady mYself.

Please understand i am in no way trying to make money or get rich off this woman.  I am trying to find a way, on my first investment house purchase, to make it work so she can live in her house.  While I was there I told her that if she needed help going to church on Sundays I would even drive her.  This is about helping an old woman, not profiting from her demise.

@Dave Mosher one thing I don't think was mentioned above is a life estate.  A life estate would mean she owns it until she dies then you (or whoever else is the "remainderman".  I am not sure if this would be economically feasible or how you would structure it. I am just tossing out another idea.

Reverse mortgage when she has 25% equity is unlikely to be approved. Life estate is a good idea if you don't need the rent. Buying the house and helping her move may be in everyone's best interest. Looking forward to hearing how this deal works out.

@Dave Mosher - thank you for trying to find a way to help someone in your community!

You might consider reaching out to an organization in your area that works with folks like this lady (i.e. affordable housing org) to see if they have other ideas or would want to work with you to keep her in her home. Especially in areas where housing is in short supply, they might be overjoyed to work with you.

Good luck! Please report back.

This is obviously not a post regarding investments. As suggested there are many agencies out there to assist seniors. Unless you are intending to take on the responsibility of being her full time social worker simply direct her to a agency to help and move on.

Be very carful in this situation that family does not see you as a vulture preparing to take advantage of a old lady. Involvement in the personal lives of others is seldom viewed as positive by family.

Direct her and move on.

@Thomas S. in the original post @Dave Mosher  explicitly states he's looking for advice on how to help someone out *while making a profit.* That's an investment question as far as I'm concerned. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. I, for one, welcome the original question! :)

@Dave Mosher

Haven't ran the numbers but will it work with seller-financing/subject-to?  and charge her rent but make sure you're in the black, even marginally?  helps keep the fees (escrow, commission, etc) out.

thank you Paul and Megan, I am considering a few options but waiting on a fee get back to me.  thanks again

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