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I own half share of a house with my brother in NZ and I am wanting to get my half out. He is going to buy me out but I need to know what is fair. He wants to keep the house, so should I be expected to be paying half costs of what is still needing to be paid out for maintenance work when he finally gets around to it? When buying out the other person do you buy them out at GV (government valuation) or what the market valuation is at the time?

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This is a tricky situation. Ultimately, what is fair is whatever you and your brother can come to an agreement on. But you need to make sure that when the deal is done, you are still friends. With some families this is easier than with others.

Having said all of that, here are a few pointers that might help you arrive at a fair deal. Remember that your alternative to selling to your brother is to sell the house to a third party and split the proceeds. That would be more work and more expensive than selling to your brother, so keep that in mind.

First, I'm not sure about New Zealand, but in the U.S., Government Valuation of a house (called "assessed value" in the U.S.) does not necessarily match the reality of the true value of the house. So I would not base my offer on the GV. Instead, get an appraisal done on the house to find the current market value of the house.

Next, if I were you, I would discount the price of the house by a few percentage points. There are a few reasons for this. First, if you were to sell this house to a third party, you'd likely need to pay a real estate agent to help you find a buyer. Since you are selling to your brother, you won't have this expense, so it makes sense to split this savings. Also, if you were to list the house for sale, you likely wouldn't quite get the price you were asking for it. Finally, you want your brother to feel like he is getting a good deal. After all, he's the one spending the cash, and he's saving you both a lot of hassle by offering to buy the house instead of trying to find a buyer.

For the maintenance work that needs to be done on the house, I'm assuming that you are talking about things that need to be fixed on the house. It really depends on how much these expenses will be, but my advice would be to lower your asking price some more to help pay for these costs, with the understanding that after the deal is closed and your brother owns the whole house, he won't come back to you looking for more money. If you and he aren't sure how much this will be, get some estimates for the repairs. You may want to get the home inspected before the transfer so that he won't be stuck with any surprises after he purchased the house.

Finally, my last bit of advice is to make sure that whatever you two agree to is in writing. This will ensure that no one forgets what the deal was. You may want to hire a real estate attorney to make sure the sale is done correctly (legally) and help you draw up any agreements that you make.

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