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The Tale of Two Brothers in Litchfield Park

Address:

510 E. Fairway Drive, Litchfield Park 85340
2 BD + Bonus Rm 3 B Garage

The Situation:

When parents die, it often means that their children are left to deal with a property that none of them can agree on. Sometimes they can sell it, sometimes they don’t want to sell it, and sometimes they want to sell it but they can’t sell it for whatever reason. This was the case with a home in Litchfield Park, and two brothers in their 60’s whose parents had both just died – within a year of each other.

The parents had lived in the home all their lives, right up until they died at 89 and 92. The younger brother had moved in a couple of years earlier – both because of a bankruptcy and serious financial difficulties, and to help take care of the parents so they didn’t have to go into assisted living. The older brother was living a highly successful life in Florida, and had not been the one to assist them at the end of their lives.

Family and an inheritance can be a tough combination. The successful older brother in Florida wanted to sell the home, and didn’t care how much money it brought in; he just wanted it gone. For the unsuccessful younger brother, it was the only place he had to live and the only asset he had. He didn’t want to sell, but if it had to be sold – he wanted to get the best price possible for it. There was considerable tension between them, as the older brother was the one who had ultimate control of the property, and was making the decisions regarding it.

The Problem:

The house was in a good location; it backed onto the golf course at Wigwam Country Club. Unfortunately, this was all it had going for it. Because of their advanced age and health issues, the parents of the brothers hadn’t done any maintenance on the home in years. By the time they died, it was in disastrous condition. When the younger brother moved in, he had neither the money nor the time to take care of the neglect, or even to try to repair any of the damage. All he could do was care for his parents until they died.

The home had been built in 1955, and it looked like a set straight out of “Mad Men;” one that had fallen into ruin. It seemed as though virtually nothing had been done to the home since the 50’s; the carpeting, paint, walls, floors, kitchen, and baths were so old and in such bad shape that the only option for whoever bought it would be to gut the entire place and start over.

To make matters worse, there were a number of rooms where severe water damage had caused the ceilings to peel and buckle. There were huge holes in at least three areas where they were actually coming down and boards and ceiling tiles were falling to the floor. None of the appliances in the kitchen had been replaced – ever. By the time the parents died, everything in the kitchen could have been a museum display. Finally, the roof was completely shot; just looking up at it from ground level – you could see that it needed to be completely replaced.

What Fair Property Buyers Did:

During the negotiations between the brothers, we had to be the liaison and go-between – and sometimes the family therapist. The brother in Florida had the power of attorney, and was calling the shots, but he was in Florida, and the brother who was actually living in the home – and had been the one to help and care for their parents – wasn’t keen on doing anything his brother wanted him to do. He was bitter because he felt he had been the one to deal with the care – and ultimately – the loss of the parents, and that his brother hadn’t helped at all. Because of this, he felt that he should be the one that had control over the sale of the home. We walked a delicate line between trying to comply with the older brother’s wishes, and the younger brother’s feelings.

The End Result:

This meant that it was difficult to even get in to see the home and its condition, because we wanted to be sensitive to the younger brother’s situation. When we were able to, we went in to view the home as respectfully as possible, and made an offer to the brother in Florida within 24 hours – as he had requested. He accepted immediately, much to his younger brother’s dismay, even though he knew it was a fair offer, and he would get half of the proceeds. After this, we did our best to help the brothers deal with each other, and then we actually helped the younger brother cope with the sale and having to move out. We counseled him on finding resources that would help him with the next stage of his life.

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