Dave Ramsey says: Be gentle and honest when working with family

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22 2013 6:30 a.m. MDT

Dear Dave,

My husband and I hired my brother as our real estate agent. He’s just starting out in the business and working two jobs, but it’s been five or six months and he hasn’t helped us find a house. On top of this, we signed an exclusive buyer’s agreement with him. We’re worried about the agreement, how he’ll react and our family’s reaction if we fire him. Do you have any advice?

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Dear Dave,

I have some rental properties, and the government would like to turn a couple into low-income housing. Is this a good idea, or should I find my own tenant?

Marvin

Dear Marvin,

In these types of situations you’re generally talking about Section 8 housing. This means government-subsidized rent, and the person living there is in a lower income bracket. I put of few of my properties on Section 8 years ago, when I first started out in the real estate business. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a good news/bad news scenario.

If you own a property in a lower-income neighborhood, and you put it into the Section 8 subsidized housing program, the good news is that you’ll always get paid. This is because the federal government sends you your money. Unfortunately, the good news pretty well ends right there.

The bad news is that some Section 8 folks have a real entitlement mentality, and can be unreasonable to deal with on some issues. It’s also really hard to get them out of the property once they’ve taken up residence. Of course, not all people who participate in this program are like this. But you’ll run across your share of rough folks, irrespective of their race or the area of the country. More than anything, it’s the impact of the economic situations surrounding their lives.

Another piece of bad news is that the government puts lots of stringent conditions on the property. That wasn’t so difficult for me, because I always kept my places in really good shape. But if you go this route, I promise you’ll come across all kinds of guidelines and regulations, some of which are silly and not very realistic.

I got tired of the Section 8 experience pretty quickly, and I don’t own any property in that program today. If it were me, I’d just go find my own tenants. I know some things have probably changed since my time in the program. But if it’s like most things that are government managed, the change hasn’t been for the better!

—Dave

Dear Dave,

My husband and I hired my brother as our real estate agent. He’s just starting out in the business and working two jobs, but it’s been five or six months and he hasn’t helped us find a house. On top of this, we signed an exclusive buyer’s agreement with him. We’re worried about the agreement, how he’ll react and our family’s reaction if we fire him. Do you have any advice?

Andrea

Dear Andrea,

I think you’ve given him a fair chance. Under the circumstances, he should be willing to release you from the exclusive buyer’s contract. I know he’s your brother, and that makes things kind of emotional. You might get some flak from the rest of your family, too. But guess what? It’s none of their business. What are you supposed to do, stay in a bad deal just because you’re related? I don’t think so!

No, you and your husband need to sit down with your brother and let him know in a gentle way that things aren’t working. Ask to be released from the exclusive buyer’s agreement, and wish him the best with his new career. Make sure to let him know you love and respect him, but that the situation with his multiple jobs, and the fact that you’ve made no progress in all this time, means you need to go in another direction.

Hopefully, he’ll understand. Maybe your family will be reasonable, too. But those are things you can’t really control. Whether they want to behave like mature adults, or little kids pitching a fit, is up to them!

—Dave

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