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Noel’s People: Kate Needs Help!

What should this couple do to secure their future when one of them already owns a property with their sister?

Family and business can be like oil and water. They just don’t mix. Don’t get us wrong, there are times when families have strengthened their bonds through successful business ventures, but the horror stories of brothers, sisters and family units coming to blows over lost money and opportunity far outweigh the stories of success.

And here at, we like nothing more than working with and empowering Australians to make smart financial decisions. That’s why when we hear about Australians struggling through financial hardship, we get the best in the business to help them out.

A friend of, Noel Whittaker, has come on board to help us answer this lady’s question. Her son and his partner are stuck between the need to grow their family, capitalise on an investment property and giving a family member somewhere to live. Noel addresses this question and offers some advice on how to deal with family and financial sensibilities.

Once you go into partnership with other people you are at the mercy of a wide range of potentially changing situations

Reader Question - Kate asks:

"Hi, we have a tricky one that needs some outside advice. Our son has his own home (and mortgage, but not much equity), he met his girlfriend over 2 years ago but before they met she also built a home (I believe for $380,000) with her sister and has a 40% share of the debt (again no equity in the home). The problem now lies with them making a future and wanting to have more children (they currently have one). His girlfriend said she can’t let her sister down and isn’t willing to put anyone in her house to rent to help out financially as the sister is living there and so my son’s partner is only now thinking of moving in with my son. The way we see it for them to move forward, to marry and have more children, is to somehow free up the home with the sister. Please, any advice would be appreciated - as you can imagine this is causing some stress. Neither of them are financially secure at this stage.


Noel's answer:

This is exceedingly tricky and highlights the importance of the advice I have given numerous times that if you wish to invest your best partner is always the bank – all they ever ask is that you pay your interest. Once you go into partnership with other people you are at the mercy of a wide range of potentially changing situations. If the sister won't agree to sell the house and it’s not possible to sell the questioners part share to somebody else (which may be very hard), their only options as I see it are to leave the situation be in hope things will get better or try to get a court order which would be expensive and would play havoc with family relationships. As I have often said it's easier to keep a car out of a bog than to dig it out once it is bogged.


Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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