When I bought my condo with cash for $155k, I paid $40k of my own money and my parents lent me $115k. Our agreement was that when I eventually sold the condo, my parents would get 75% of the gross sales proceeds.

I pay my parents $500 every month and I assumed I was building equity in the condo, but that doesn't seem the case since I can never own more than 25%. By the way, I am also responsible for all property taxes, insurance, and condo fees. Property taxes are about $3500 per year and condo fees are close to $4000 per year. I am also no allowed to sell the property without their consent.

I feel like this isn't actually a loan if I can never build more equity in the condo. Am I missing something? Are there similar deals like this or am I being ripped off my my parents? If so, what should I do?

Please help. I am starting to feel like I might have been betrayed by my family.

  • 31
    Let me guess, they told you debt is evil? and came up with that solution? Shariah-compliant banks get around interest by doing something similar but it is still a better arrangement for the owner.
    – CQM
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:04
  • 55
    Let me get this straight, They are asking you to pay for 100% of the condo, but they will still own 75% of it. So you pay 115k to them as a loan, and then when you sell it , you give them 75% of what you sold it for. Assuming you sell it for the same price, that means you gave your parents 230k for a 115k loan. Either that, or you basically paying $500 in rent to them every month
    – Ryan
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:20
  • 15
    Check with a real estate-focused lawyer on this. If I assume that your parents aren't trying to rip you off, this could simply be legal jargon around: You're paying back the $115k loan, and your parents get 75% of the house if you sell it before the loan is paid off. Or they could be planning on filing a quit-claim when you sell. That being said, I don't know your family. If you have a hunch that you're being ripped off, double-check everything. That's where a lawyer could help -- to decipher the legalese in the contract you signed.
    – Brian
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:37
  • 27
    This is interesting, you're actually paying rent, not paying off a loan, because there is no consideration (you get nothing for your "loan" payments), this arrangement sounds like bull. Hopefully it's just an oversight and not malicious.
    – Hart CO
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:45
  • 15
    75% of what it sells for. the loan turns out to be an interest-only loan, which i had never heard of before and confused me. relationship with parents is fine now Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 19:42

19 Answers 19


It's a little unusual, but I don't think the financial terms are completely unreasonable on their face.

What you describe is similar to an interest-only loan, where you make payments that only cover the interest due each month, and the entire principal is due as a single "balloon payment" on a specified date (in this case, the date on which the condo is sold). Your monthly payment of $500 on a principal of $115K is equivalent to an annual interest rate of 5.22%, which at least is not completely usurious. With a traditional mortgage you might pay a rate as low as 3%, if you had sufficient income and excellent credit - but I don't know, from what you've said, whether that's the case. Did you make the current arrangement because you were unable to get a loan from a bank?

The main difference here is that instead of the balloon payment being a fixed $115K, it's "75% of the gross proceeds of the sale". If the condo eventually sells for $155K, that would be $116,250, so that's slightly advantageous to them (assuming that "gross proceeds" means "before deducting commissions for either the buyers' or sellers' realtors or any other costs of the sale"), and thus slightly disadvantageous to you. If the condo appreciates in value, that's more of a win for them and more of a relative loss for you. But it's also possible that the value of the condo goes down, in which case this arrangement is better for you than a fixed balloon payment. So this deal does prevent you from getting a larger share of any gains in the value of the property, but it also helps insulate you from any losses. That's important to keep in mind.

There's also the issue of needing their consent to sell. That's potentially problematic - usually in a joint ownership scheme, either owner has the right to demand to be bought out or to force a sale. I guess it depends on whether you think your parents would be likely to consent under reasonable circumstances, or to insist on holding the property against your best interests.

It's true that you aren't building equity with this arrangement, and if you thought you were, you are mistaken or misled. But let's compare it with other options.

If you would qualify for a traditional 30-year fixed mortgage at 3%, your monthly payment would be slightly lower ($484), and you would be building some equity because your payments would reduce the principal as well as paying the interest. But a 30-year loan builds equity very slowly at first - after 7 years you'd have only about $20,000 in principal paid down.

If we assume that 5.2% represents the interest rate you'd otherwise pay based on your creditworthiness, then your monthly payment would be $631. So compared to that, you have an extra $130 per month that you can save or invest in whatever you want - you're not forced to invest it in your house.

Note that in either case you'd still be paying the condo fees, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance yourself. So we might as well eliminate those from consideration.

It might be a good idea to find out what other options you would have - perhaps try to get an interest rate quote on a traditional mortgage from a bank, based on your income and credit history. Then you can decide what to do, taking into account:

  • your financial situation; how much of a monthly payment could you afford?

  • your relationship with your parents; are they likely to be reasonable about renegotiating? Do they in general tend to respect your wishes? Would it harm your relationship if you tried to get out of the deal, and how important is that to you?

  • To what extent do you actually want to pay for equity in this property? Do you really believe it's a good investment, and have evidence to support that?

Your options include:

  • Try to renegotiate the terms of the loan from your parents

  • Try to "refinance" the loan, by getting a loan from a bank and paying off some agreed-upon amount of principal to your parents

  • Try to force the sale of the condo and move to another house, financing it some other way

  • Consult a lawyer as to whether your agreement with your parents is legally enforceable. For instance, do they have a lien on the property?

  • 9
    I'm a little confused by this answer. It sounds as if you're talking about a situation where the OP pays 75% of the condo's sale price plus 5.22% interest on a fixed $115k principal. But the question seems to describe a situation where the poster pays 75% of the condo's sale price, plus interest and principal on a $115k loan. That is, I understand from the question that they are paying their parents (roughly) 75% of the condo's value twice, in addition to interest. Am I misunderstanding something?
    – David Z
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 17:39
  • 1
    I'd like to say though, this could be potentially incredibly advantageous for you in the case of a lack of formal documentation or co-ownership. If they don't have a singed piece of paper or joint ownership, and are unreasonable about the situation, there's always the nuclear option of not worrying about your parents. It may burn a bridge, but you open your options up if this is the case.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 17:43
  • 24
    @DavidZ: I understood that the terms are that OP will make a payment of $500 per month indefintely until the sale of the condo, at which point the parents will take 75% of the proceeds and the loan will then be satisfied. If so then I think it makes sense to treat the payment as interest only. If OP will be liable for all or part of $115K beyond the sale, in addition to 75% of the proceeds, or if the payments could end at some time before the sale of the condo (when the "principal is paid off"), then the situation would be different. Perhaps OP can clarify the terms. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 18:32
  • 2
    Good analysis, but it would be better with a mention of the tax consequences. Rent and interest have different tax obligations and tax deductions, and either way the parents need to file papers (which would also define things better for the OP). Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 1:11
  • 1
    Unfortunately, I know very little about rental & interest taxes, other than the fact that the lender must report the payments to IRS and issue 1099-INT forms to the debtor for interest paid. Otherwise these folks will run into tax liability problems in the long run. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 1:22

"Ripped off" may be too strong as it implies intent - I'm hopeful it's just bad logic or terminology.

I would say better agreements would be:

  • You own the condo 100% and borrow the remaining 75% through a private mortgage from them. They get made whole when you sell or refinance the condo.
  • You keep just a 25% stake but call the $500 "rent" instead of a "loan payment". They effectively just bought a 75% stake in the condo and are charging you rent (ideally at 75% of market rent). You can decide whether you should also split the taxes and fees or just pay it all, with an equivalent reduction in rent.

Borrowing money from family/friends is always risky. If you and your parents are comfortable with the situation and can reliably keep records of how much is owed at any given time (and how much of the $500/mo is interest) then the loan might be a good option. If not, and your parents don't need the income stream from the loan, then I would recommend the second option since it's much cleaner.

In any case, make sure everything is in writing and the proper legal procedures are followed (just as if you had borrowed the money from a bank). That means either filing a mortgage with the county for option 1 or having both parties on the deed, and having the ownership percentages in writing.

  • 7
    Agreed; I'm hoping the same thing. For most people, this situation would stem from a misunderstanding of legal jargon or a misreading of the contract. OTOH, with narcissistic parents (etc), things like this end up being huge scams. I'm not sure which camp the poster is in though.
    – Brian
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:42
  • Another reason for having everything written and legal is to avoid a nasty fight if either party dies.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 0:30
  • 1
    Agreed about the terminology: if what you owe them is 75% of the property, as opposed to $115k, then they didn't "lend" you $115k. They lent you 75% of the property. It's one or the other. But I suppose the questioner's name is on the title, so it's all a bit muddled. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 16:05
  • I'm a little bit confused by your expression "You own the condo 100 % and borrow the remaining 75 %." If he/she owns the condo 100 %, there are no 75 % left. You must mean "You own the condo 25 % and borrow the remaining 75 %," right? Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 20:39
  • 1
    @HelloGoodbye I mean you own the condo 100% (meaning you are the sole owner on the title) but get a mortgage to pay for the 75% that you don't have the money for. Essentially putting a 25% down payment on the condo.
    – D Stanley
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 13:23

To expand on what @fishinear and some others are saying:

The only way to look at it is that the parents have invested, because the parents get a % of the property in the end, rather than the original loan amount plus interest. It is investment; it is not a loan of any kind.

One way to understand this is to imagine that after 20 years, the property triples in value (or halves in value). The parents participate as if they had invested in 75% ownership of the property and the OP as if 25% ownership of the property.

Note that with a loan, there is a (potentially changing) outstanding loan balance, that could be paid to end the loan (to pay off the loan), and there is an agreed upon an interest rate that is computed on the outstanding balance — none of those apply to this situation; further with a loan there is no % of the property: though the property may be used to secure the loan, that isn't ownership. Basically, since the situation bears none of the qualities of a loan, and yet does bear the qualities of investment, the parents have bought a % ownership of the property.

The parents have invested in 75% of the real estate, and the OP is renting that 75% from them for:

  • $500/mo, +
  • their share of the property taxes: 75% * $3500/12 = $218.75/mo, +
  • their share of the condo fees: 75% * $4000/12 = $250/mo, +
  • their share of the insurance of undisclosed, say 75% of $700/12 = $43.75, +
  • maybe their share of the maintenance, unknown

The total rent the OP is paying the parents for their 75% of the property is then (at least) $1012.50/mo,

A rental rate of $1012.50/mo for 75% of the property equates to a rental price of $1350/mo for the whole property.

This arrangement is only fair to both parties when the fair-market rental value of the whole property is $1350/mo; it is unfair to the OP when the fair-market rental value of property is less, and unfair to the parents when the fair-market rental value of property is more.

Of course, the fair-market rental value of the property is variable over time, so the overall fairness would need to understand rental values over time.

I feel like this isn't actually a loan if I can never build more equity in the condo. Am I missing something?

No, it isn't a loan. You and your parents are co-investing in real estate. Further, you are renting their portion of the investment from them.

For comparison, with a loan you have 100% ownership in the property from the start, so you, the owner, would see all the upside/downside as the property valuation changes over time whether the loan is paid off or not. The borrower owes the loan balance (and interest) not some % of the property. A loan may be secured by the property (using a lien) but that is quite different from ownership. Typically, a loan has a payment schedule setup to reduce the loan balance (steadily) over time so that you eventually pay it off. With a loan you gain equity % — the amount you own outright, free & clear — in two ways, (1) by gradually paying off the loan over time so the unencumbered portion of the property grows, and (2) if the valuation of the property increases over time that gain in equity % is yours (not the lenders). However note that the legal ownership is all 100% yours from the start.

Are my parents ripping me off with this deal that doesn't allow me to build my equity in my home?

You can evaluate whether you are being ripped off by comparing the $1350/mo rate to the potential rental rate for the property over time (which will be a range or curve, and there are real estate websites (like zillow.com or redfin.com, others) to help estimate what fair-market rent might be).

Are there similar deals like this...?

A straight-forward loan would have the borrower with 100% legal ownership from the start, just that the property secures the loan. Whereas with co-investment there is a division of ownership % that is fixed from the start.

It is unusual to have both investment and loan at the same time where they are setup for gradual change between them. (Investment and loan can certainly be done together but would usually be done as completely separate contracts, one loan, one investment with no adjustment between the two over time.)

To do both investment and loan would be unusual but certainly be possible, I would imagine; however that is not the case here as being described. I am not familiar with contracts that do both so as to take over the equity/ownership/investment over time while also reducing loan balance. Perhaps some forms of rent-to-own work that way, something to look into — still, usually rent-to-own means that until the renter owns it 100%, the landlord owns 100%, rather than a gradual % transfer over time (gradual transfer would imply co-ownership for a long time, something that most landlords would be reluctant to do).

Transfer of any particular % of real estate ownership typically requires filing documents with the county and may incur fees. I am not aware of counties that allow gradual % transfer with one single filing. Still, the courts may honor a contract that does such gradual transfer outside of county filings.

If so, what should I do?

Explain the situation to your parents, and, in particular, however far out of balance the rental rate may be. Decide for yourself if you want to rent vs. buy, and where (that property or some other). If your parents are fair people, they should be open to negotiation. If not, you might need a lawyer.

I suspect that a lawyer would be able to find several issues with which to challenge the contract.

The other terms are important as well, namely gross vs. net proceeds (as others point out) because selling a property costs a % to real estate agents and possibly some taxes as well.

And as the others have pointed out, if the property ultimately looses value, that could be factored in as well.

It is immaterial to judging the fairness of this particular situation whether getting a bank loan would be preferable to renting 75% from the parents. Further, loan interest rates don't factor into the fairness of this rental situation (but of course interest rates do factor into identifying the better of various methods of investment and methods of securing a place to live, e.g. rent vs. buy).

Contributed by @Scott: If your parents view this as an investment arrangement as described, then you need to clarify with them if the payments being made to them are considered a "buy out" of their share. This would allow you to gain the equity you seek from the arrangement.

@Scott: Terms would have to be (or have been) declared to that effect; this would involve specifying some schedule and/or rates. It would have to be negotiated; this it is not something that could go assumed or unstated. -- Erik

  • 3
    I think this analysis is the most accurate way of looking at the situation. And $1350/mo in rent for a $155,000 condo seems high. So that points to this being overall, a good deal for the parents. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 21:47
  • 2
    @gnasher729, I think you missed the point that the OP is paying the parents' shares of those items, in addition to their own share of those. It does not matter if those funds go directly to those third parties or thru the parents first, if the OP is paying the parents portion of something, it is as if the parents are earning those funds in rent. Beside, $1350 is the value to compare with fair market rent, not the sum being paid.
    – Erik Eidt
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 23:01
  • 2
    This is an excellent answer, however, I think a critical component is left out before we can claim they "invested in the property." If we are to classify this as an investment I think they need to shoulder 75% responsibility for upkeep and maintenance. I'm not sure if that is the case. If they are not, then the "renter" is shouldering a disproportionate burden on maintaining the property (and thus its market value).
    – James
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 18:45
  • 1
    @TechMedicNYC I think you're wrong. If I own 75% of a property and shoulder 75% of the upkeep and maintenance, I'm also entitled to 75% of the use of property. Since the other party is getting 100% of the use instead of 25%, that party needs to compensate me for my loss. So, they could do that by paying me directly (via rent) or indirectly (via paying an equivalent amount towards my share of upkeep) or both. Furthermore, by living there 100%, the other party is saving money on housing costs, versus if we'd just rented it out to a third party and split the proceeds which factors into the split.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 6:40
  • 2
    @TechMedicNYC I agree, that and the two parties are closely related - there's a sense that there should be a more equitable sharing of costs and profits versus what you'd expect in a pure business transaction where on party is supplying needed funding in a manner that both ensures repayment and profit upside at exit.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:55

First, this was never an arrangement for you to build equity, this was an arrangement for them to speculate on another house under the guise of teaching you a life lesson like responsibility or something contrived.

The only way you profit from this is if the value of the house goes up and you sell it. You get 25% of the proceeds, maybe.

If this was an equitable arrangement then they would be paying 75% of the property taxes and a little more for your maintenance efforts.

  • 1
    what do you mean by "speculate on another house"? Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:13
  • 2
    @ksjdalskndosd it just assumes they owned a house before. they are positioned to benefit the most from a rise in the value of the house.
    – CQM
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 18:50
  • 9
    From their point of view they have a winning investment. Guaranteed 5% return + any rise in house prices, without taking any of the typical downsides of home ownership, taxes, repairs, etc. A fairer option all round (unless you expect the price to drop) would be to maintain the $500 payments, but have a fixed return of $115000 when you sell. That way you are getting the full benefit of price rises, and they still have a good return on investment. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 9:04

You are getting totally hosed mate. Assume you live in the house for ten years, can get a normal 30 year mortgage and house prices average at 3% annually You could get a mortgage at 3.8% so your monthly payment would be $560 a month. $60 a month difference over 10 year is $7200 Because you are paying down on a conventional mortgage you would owe 93500 after 10 years. On top of that the house would have appreciated by $47000. You would have to give you parents $35500 of that. So by avoiding a normal loan it's costing you an extra $49000.

  • You're making a fatal assumption - that he could qualify for loans at all, market rate or otherwise.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:46
  • That makes no difference. In fact if his parents are exploiting his lack of credit worthiness, that's worse in some way. They are not helping him with this deal, they are making from it. Also, if you have a 25% deposit to put down on a house you can get a mortgage of some description which would beat his current deal. Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 8:54
  • How does that make sense? If he's getting a better rate than available from banks how is he being exploited? So family are required to loan you money at 0%?
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 12:17
  • Where does it say that? If parents want to help him they would lend at bank rate, so still earn more than they would get if left in savings. Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 14:49
  • Yes, but what is bank rate? What if the banks think his credit is too bad to offer him a loan? When you say bank rate, do you mean his parents should loan him money at prime rate? If so, why? Banks make lots of loans above prime, why should his parents not do the same? Of course, given that their financial contribution gives them fixed equity in the home, this isn't a loan in the traditional sense, but an investment. But we can argue about that after we resolve the rate issue.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 14:56

If I understand you situation correctly, then the accepted answer is extremely misleading and incorrect. Your arrangement with your parents is definitely unreasonable.

It is definitely not "similar to an interest-only loan". In an interest-only loan, like you can get from a bank, you will loan a sum of money, which you are expected to pay back at a certain time in the future, or when you sell the condo. But you pay back the original sum, not the value of property at selling time. For the access to the money you pay an interest to the bank. The bank gets their profits from the interest. The property only serves as collateral in case you are not able to make your interest payments.

Another way to view it, is that your parent bought (a share of) your condo for investment reasons. In that case, they would expect to get their profits from the increase of the value of the property over time. That looks most like your situation. Granted, that is more risky for them, but that is what they choose to sign up for. But in that case it is not reasonable to charge your for interest as well, because that would mean they would get double profits.

So how does the $500 monthly payment fit in? If it is interest, then it would work out to a yearly interest of about 5.2%. Where I live, that would nowadays be extremely high even for an interest-only mortgage from a bank. But I don't live in the USA, so don't know whether that is true there.

I think in your situation, the $500 can only be seen as rent. Whether that is reasonable for your situation I cannot judge from here. It should be 75% of a reasonable rent for a condo like that. But in that case, your parents should also stand for 75% of the maintenance costs of the property, which you don't mention, and most of the property taxes and insurance fees.

In short, no it is not a reasonable arrangement. You would be better of trying to get a morgage from the bank, and buy out your parents with it.

  • 1
    similar: resembling without being identical. I think this qualifies. I'm not sure why it's not reasonable to get "double" profits. If you're starting a business, and need a loan, banks offer you 100k at 20%. I offer you 100k at 1% plus ownership of 75% of your business. Alternatively, I could give you the 100k at 0% and 85% of your business. The whole single vs double profits thing is just how you've decided to compensate me for my 100k investment. The former method guarantees me an upside. The latter is riskier. I can't see how fairness enters into this.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:14
  • 1
    The fact is, he needs their $115k, they don't need his $40k. In most business situation, the person who needs the funds is going to pay more back to the supplying party, than the simple ratio of the amount they contributed to the venture.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:17
  • @iheanyi It is not a difference between 20% interest for the bank and 1% interest for the parents, but between 2% interest (typical bank mortgage rate in my country) and 5.2% (parents). That is, the interest is already much higher than for a normal loan, and on top of that the parents also get a stake in the property. That is double profits.
    – fishinear
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:04
  • typical mortgage rates only apply to people with appropriate credit in my country. Banks don't just give money to everyone that asks. So, when banks won't lend to you, the alternatives are people who will, usually at high rates. Credit cards are in the 18-30%, Payday loans can be 100% or more. So, unless to have some inside regarding the OP's finances, my scenario is equally likely.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:45
  • in fact, I'd argue that I'm more likely to be correct, that the cost of the $115K from his parents is significantly cheaper than his alternatives, so there's no way he's getting screwed, his parents have created an opportunity hr otherwise would not have.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 14:49

Yes, you are getting shafted. In the end, you will have paid the full price of the condo, but still own only 25% of it. Your parents' stake in the home should decrease as you repay the loan. The way it is now, they're getting 75% of your condo for free!

  • 4
    How will he have paid the full price of the condo? There's no telling how long he will own it for. The $500 a month sure simply pays the interest on the line of credit for the $115k.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 22:58
  • If he stays there long enough to have paid out the full price of the condo he'd be shafted sure - but that would be his own doing. In that scenario, he shafted himself. He could always sell and exit at a profit (or significantly less loss). That's like claiming you're getting shafted because after making a $20,000 purchase on your credit card, you simply paid the minimum until the account was paid off even though you had $20k in cash sitting around doing nothing.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:44

Talk to your parents, and find out if you are reducing the debt or not. Find buyers, sell the place now and get out the deal. Of course you will have to wait to get a good price on it. Short term you haven't lost that much, but long term you will.

Take your 25%, and use it as a down payment on a regular bank mortgage. Lesson learned move on.

  • 3
    If you decide to go down this route, you could always look into getting a mortgage and buying out your parents' share - this would avoid the hassle (and cost!) of selling up, buying a new property, moving etc.
    – psmears
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 12:45
  • @psmears OP would still have to pay for all fees mortgage related (origination, appraisal, title search etc.) though.
    – xiaomy
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:12
  • @xiaomy: Sure - but they'll have all those costs either way (though I guess they may be able to save some depending on what documentation they have from the original purchase); and even more costs if they buy a new place and move into it!
    – psmears
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:50
  • @psmears I'd go along with your suggestion but ditch the bank and try to negotiate an equity-to-debt conversion deal with the parents instead...like an in-house mortgage.
    – xiaomy
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:53

First, I don't think your parents are ripping you off, but you should get your agreement in writing. The fact that you never own more than 25% doesn't matter. If the condo's value is increasing, you are in fact building equity. Your share of the equity just doesn't increase, but it doesn't decrease either. For example, if the condo is worth $300,000 now, you have $75,000 in equity. Of course if the value is decreasing, so is your equity.

If you are paying $500/month in interest (as OP clarified above), and you don't have a written agreement, you are probably unable to claim that payment as mortgage interest if you itemize your deductions on U.S. federal or state tax returns, thus you may be losing out on a legal tax deduction (assuming you earn enough to itemize). They will need to give you each year the proper IRS form for mortgage interest (Form 1098). And, they have to claim the $500/month as interest income on their tax returns. Having a written and signed contract eliminates confusion and potential for heartbreaking misunderstanding the future--and it sounds like you are already experiencing some doubt and confusion now. Your rate seems within market rates for an interest-only loan.

Let's say you wanted to buy out your parents' share of the condo right now. Would you pay $115,000 or would you have to get an appraisal to find out what the condo is worth now? If you can't answer that question, you need to get that in writing so that you won't have an argument over it someday. If the condo has appreciated significantly and all you have to pay is the $115,000, then that's a sweet deal for you, because you'd be buying out a much more valuable property for much less than it's worth. If that is the agreement, and the property is appreciating (no guarantee, especially with condos), then you are essentially building equity. If the property is declining in value and you do wish to sell it, then you won't have to pay $115,000; they'll just end up with their 75% share, which will be less than the $115K they invested. Both of you would lose some of your investment, but you would have had all the benefits of living in a nice condo all those years and they wouldn't. They are definitely taking more risk than you are.

Second, if you had $40,000 cash saved up, your parents probably raised you with some good financial sense and work ethic, so I'm optimistic they have good intentions for your future. Operate from that frame of mind when you go to ask for a written agreement.

Next, read up about Equity Share Agreements. There are many models that will help inform your decisions. But, you should engage a real estate lawyer to help you draw up a fair agreement for both parties.

I was in an equity share agreement for my first townhouse. It's a common practice, and it won't cost all that much to get one created. It's worth the money to get it done properly.


No It's not a loan. It's an equity investment.

Think of it as a business. The parents bought 75% of the equity with $115K, and are entitled to 75% of the sale proceeds, should you someday liquidate the business (i.e. selling the house).

The $500 per month is just business revenue and is paid to your parents as a dividend. Imagine you rent it out to your self and charge a $666.66 rent - you take 25% of that back and give your parents the rest.

Like any equity investment, the risk for them is that if the value of the house goes down, they will have to shoulder the loss.

And you are right, there is no way to build equity. You already sold that to your parents.


Actually if you look at a loan for $115,000 over 30 years at current interest rates you would have a payment of about $500 a month. I would argue your $500 monthly payments are building equity the same way a loan repayment schedule would.

Is your agreement in writing? If it is, there's nothing you can do unless they agree. If it's not then write up a contract for a $115k loan that you will pay back over 30 years at $500 a month with the amortization table. That will show how much equity you're building over time. (It's not much the first 10 years!) Note that some states require real estate contract to be in writing or else they are voidable by either party.

Whatever you do, get something in writing or you'll probably either end up in court or feeling bitter for the next few decades.

  • 3.25% for a 30 year loan is slightly below the market for interest rates, but it's pretty close. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 22:06
  • Not much equity to be built if 75% of the gain goes to the parents. You build equity when the proceeds of the eventual sale are all yours to keep (less outstanding principal on money borrowed)
    – Anthony X
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 22:55

The time to have looked into this is before you bought the condo, not now. You are presumably an adult. Your parents have apparently made it possible for you to have a roof of your own over your head for what is probably below rental rates (but I don't know your area, so can't say). From their point of view, they may have been doing you a favor, while giving themselves an investment opportunity. What would they be doing with that money otherwise, and at a higher or lower rate of return, and with greater or lesser risk? Where and how would you be living otherwise? More Importantly, if you can't talk to them about this you have bigger problems than money.


Basically, you have purchased 25% of the condo for $40,000, and your parents bought 75% of the condo for another $115,000. We imagine for a moment that it wasn't you who lived in the condo, but some unrelated person paying rent.

You are paying $7,500 a year for tax and fees, plus $6,000 a year, so there is $13,500 leaving your wallet. If $15,500 a year was a reasonable rent, then the tax and fee would be paid out of that, there would be $8,000 left, of which you would get 25% = $2,000. If you were officially "renting" it, you would pay $15,500 a year, and get $2,000 back, again $13,500 leaving your wallet. So you are in exact the same situation financially as you would be if you paid $15,500 rent.

Question: Is $15,500 a year or $1,290 a month an appropriate rent for your condo? If a neighbour is renting his condo, is he or she paying $1,290 or more or less? Could you rent the same place for the same money? If $1,290 is the correct rent then you are fine. If the rent should be lower, then you are overpaying. If the rent should be higher, then you are making money.

Keep in mind that you will also be winning if rents go up in the future.

  • The parents have not purchased 75% of the condo. They've loaned him $115k. Let's postulate that his credit is bad and the banks would, if their rules allowed, only loan him that $115k at 10%. The difference between market rent and what he's paying would need to be pretty significant for him to be overpaying relative to his other options to own the condo. Pretty much, in order to actually evaluate whether he's overpaying, we'd need to know the best available alternative he would have accepted in order to purchase the condo. The scenario you outlined is the best possible - but unlikely.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:37
  • I looked at the facts of the situation, not at the claims of parents or son. The fact is that the parents get 75% when the flat is sold, with no expectation to see any of the $115k back as well. So the fact is, they bought it or as good as bought it.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:48
  • I don't see how this is any different than investing in a start up. You also only get a percentage at exit, no guarantee of getting back the principal investment. That this is being treated differently because it's a house doesn't compute.
    – iheanyi
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 2:27

Are you in the United States?

Is there some sort of written agreement that the money your parents paid into the house is a loan that will be paid back?

I assume the deed to the home is in your name, and your parents do not have a lien on the property in any way?

In the United States provided there is no lien and your parents are not also on the mortgage, that home is 100% yours. Now I would argue you still owe your parents money, but absent some sort of contract it sounds like an interest free loan that you'll pay back at a rate of 500$/month.

Your parents could attempt to sue you and if this happens I recommend you find a real estate attorney. It's unlikely that they would win the case since there's no paperwork and even if there was it is unlikely to hold up since it so strongly favors them ( your parents ).

Now if your parents are listed on the mortgage or somehow have a lien on the house, you have a bigger issue as they technically own (or at least have an interest in) part of the property and when you decide to sell the house you would have to involve them.

  • What mortgage? OP put in $40k, parents put in $115k that equals the total asking price of $155k. Where is the mortgage?
    – quid
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 17:34

yes and no its definitely not charitable as they are making money of off you but depending on the outside conditions if you had to pay a mortgage on that condo with only 35k in payments to start off it would more than likely exceed 500 dollars a month however there would always be a point were the mortgage would end and it dosent sound like thats going to be the case with you paying your parents so it depends on how long your going to have that condo and how much mortgage would have been.


I would go see a Lawyer no matter what. It's a form of a scam your parents are doing. Make sure it's YOUR name only on the title of the building if it is, then you have a MAJOR case against them. This is a form of Equity scam, in where you aren't really going to make hardly any money. Once you pay them that money towards the loan legally their stake needs to decrease according to what you said. ABSOLUTELY CONSULT A LAWYER!


You're paying 5.2% 'interest' on the $115K (500 * 12 / 115,000) * 100 but the amount you pay back is not $115K but 75% of the property value at sale. Is that right?

A mortgage would have cost about half that rate and the balloon payment would have been fixed - you would pay back $115K at maturity plus you could have sold it whenever you liked

As Gnasher729 said, if you consider it to be rent then the situation looks different but the point of buying a house is to avoid paying 'useless' rent, build equity and hopefully make a capital gain

I'd speak to a lawyer & possibly an accountant (regarding the numbers)


It depends on the selling price, but if we can assume the property will be sold at a profit, they are getting a pretty sweet deal at your expense. They are both getting about 5.2% interest on their money, plus the lion's share of any property appreciation.

I would say that fair would be either of:

  1. They pay 75% of the taxes and condo fees (you're the only one benefitting from the utilities, so that's all yours to bear) and they get 75% of the gross sale, or
  2. They pass through to you the interest cost of money they provided (assuming they had to borrow it, and 5% does sound reasonable), but on sale they only get their original principal (115k) back, or
  3. They operate it like a real mortgage where you pay them interest plus a portion of the principal each month and on sale, they only get the balance of that principal back (less than the original 115k).
  • They are the lender. Are they going to pay 75% of their own interest.
    – quid
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 17:30
  • @quid I made the assumption the parents were borrowing from a bank or something in order to have the money to lend out.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 22:50

You are being ripped off on several counts.

1) 40k is 26% not 25%.

2) Why should you pay them $500 rent? they bought a share of the property, they should fund it if they intend to keep 75%

3) Why do you need to pay them for the 75%? why dont they need to pay you for the 25%?

You are better off getting a loan for the 75% and going solo so you get to buy equity.

  • 4
    "Why should you pay them $500 rent? ... Why do you need to pay them for the 75%? Why don't they need to pay you for the 25%?" - Because the OP is living there, and their parents aren't. Also, the $500 isn't rent, it's interest.
    – marcelm
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 12:19

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