Rental Property/Asset Valuation Question - Unusual Situation

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TheAdmiral, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Newbie

    I have been reading through posts for several weeks now, trying to make sure my questions have already been covered before posting here.

    However, I do have a question regarding my MIL's rental property that I can't seem to find answered anywhere.

    We had to rescue Mom from a bad situation on Christmas day 2009. Her son was physically, emotionally and financially abusing her. Son was a hoarder, neglected her and trashed her house. She is 93 years old now.

    He ended up taking all her life savings and left her with virtually nothing but her social security payment. He stole that for one month, too, but did end up returning it.

    We got a lawyer for mom and were able to win at the lower court level, but son appealed the decision. He returned her house in horrible condition and with a $100,000 home equity loan attached to it which he had her sign.

    He claims he used the loan to improve the house, but he clearly did not spend one dime on it. The loan document itself showed he used a large portion of the money to pay off his credit cards, used the rest for his benefit and stuck Mom with the debt.

    My wife and I had to borrow $6,000 from a friend in order to install an A/C system in the house so we could at least rent it out. This is in an area where it gets up to 118 degrees in the summer. We were able to rent it out in "as is" condition last June.

    However, before we installed the A/C unit and rented it, we had a real estate agent look at the house to determine its value. We were exploring different options at the time. This was about a year ago. The agent pulled comps for the area and told us she thought we might be able to sell the house for $40-$50,000 due to the poor condition of the house, the down market, and the fact that an unpermitted room had been added to the house by the previous owner.

    She explained that due to the unpermitted addition, no bank would finance it through a traditional mortgage and that we would have to find a "cash buyer".

    So, I guess my question comes down to, how does the VA determine property values?

    If they go to or any other online appraisal service, they will find the house listed at a higher value...even as much as $180,000. I sincerely doubt that the home is worth anywhere near that amount, though we wish it was.

    Any suggestions on what we should list that asset for or how to go about this situation?

    To complete the picture...My wife and I worked for months with the fraud department of the major bank which held the loan and they finally agreed to remove Mom's name from the loan (after we provided court documents, pictures, explanations, copies of the Order of Protection, etc.) and go after the son. It was a Godsend and involved a lot of prayer and work on our part.

    Up to now, Mom has incurred approx. $80,000 in outstanding legal bills and it is not over yet. There is no guarantee her lower court decision will be upheld by the Court of Appeals. They made my wife responsible for her mother's legal bills, because they figured they could go after her for payment if they didn't win for Mom.

    Sorry for the long story. This is actually the very short version. If I wrote about all the crazy stunts the son has pulled, you might not believe it. Your basic nightmare...

    Thanks so much for this website. It is outstanding and we look forward to being in a position to donate.
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Wow - this has obviously been a real nightmare for you and your wife.

    The good news is the house does not count as an asset, and you do not need to list it. Having said that, she does have to count the rental income as monthly income on top of her SS. If you were to sell the house and find a "cash" buyer, you would have to report that gain, and it may throw her out of the program until she spends down the majority of it.

    What you do not mention is where is Mom living now, what are her monthly expenses, and have you calculated what the VA will be looking at for her "countable income"?

    If not you can look here on the forums under the Tips and Resource tab for the formula to calculate that.

    Hope this helps, and glad you found us.
  3. davidbilly

    davidbilly Newbie

    A few months ago, I had such an incident with me and it had been a real nightmare for me and my wife.
  4. VA Legal Team

    VA Legal Team Full Member

    Assuming the house in question is the primary residence and not a second property, then it won't be considered as net worth by the VA. However, the income from the rent should be reported. Additionally, you should include VA Form 21-4185 with the rest of the application. Good luck.

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