Conflict over Family Vacation Property

Updated on November 20, 2011
A.B. asks from Sarasota, FL
16 answers

My parents own a little vacation property. They have had it since I was 4 or 5, I have been going there my whole life. Now that I am married and have my own family, we go and use it by ourselves quite a bit as well. This place is so special to me, I can't describe it. My best childhood memories occurred there and it is so awesome to be able to go back and spend weekends there, making the same memories with my own son, etc. It means A LOT to me.

My dad always said this was a "family" property and that I would inherit it one day. Well, over the past few years it has become clear that my mom is seriously interested in selling it. It is paid for, but it does cost money every quarter/year for taxes, HOA, etc. My parents are comfortably retired and don't have any health problems or anything, but my mom keeps complaining about the cost. I have told her several times my husband and I would be happy to take over those costs if need be, after all we use the property too so we should share the burden. She says maybe in the future that will be the case but she has also said if my dad passes before she does, she will definitely be selling it. I am pretty upset by this. We were discussing it the other night and it got a little heated, I told her we might be able to buy it from her depending and I couldn't believe her response - she said "I'm not letting it go for less than $X and YOU can't afford that." But "$X" was WAY more than the fair market value. She was also saying, It isn't being used enough - which is ridiculous. She and my dad are there all the time, and DS, DH and I have gone on average 3x/year which is a lot considering we have a toddler and it is a real production to travel with him and get all the gear down there, etc.

I just can't believe her attitude, and how cold and businesslike she is being. I know it is really out of my hands since she (and my dad) owns it, not me, but this is really hurtful to dad has been talking about all the wonderful memories we are going to make there with my son and maybe HIM owning it one day, etc, meanwhile my mom just seems to view it as some piece of property worth $X that she just wants to get rid of/cash in on.

Has anyone ever dealt with anything similar? How can I convince my mom to keep the property???

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the responses. All of them are helpful.
Yes, my parents are on two different pages, but I don't think they are necessarily keeping that from each other. As one of you pointed out, my dad and I love the property more than my mom. But it has just recently come out that this is how she really feels about it. So it is really hard to hear, after a lifetime of my dad talking about it being "something that is ours as a family" and that my husband and I will inherit it, etc. etc.
I would love to talk with my dad privately about it, but I know dad would relay the whole conversation to my mom and my mom would start WW3.
I just could not believe her attitude when we talked the other day, but as you all pointed out, it is her property so that is her perogative. My mom tends to be preoccupied with financial security and likes to have tons of money in savings.
I'm going to drop it.....she knows I am interested in paying for the upkeep and/or buying it, there's nothing more I can do.
It is just really hard when I always thought that the property was something I could count on being there. I guess I am learning another hard life lesson that nothing lasts forever! lol

Featured Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Best to never mix money and family.
If they (or she) decide to sell it--then you can make an offer--just like anyone else.
You could offer to buy it now--at the price you're willing to pay.
I know it's like a second home, but, really, it's their decision.
If she insists on listing it at her random high price--it will sit for a long time. Then maybe she's be willing to sell it to you for market value?
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can't. It is their money and property to do what they want with it. Even if you had all cash down, itis still theirs, to sell or keep. Talk with her but not at her, whether or not you agree with their decison, it is theirs alone to make.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from New York on

Well... it's her property and she can do with it as she pleases. We're in the opposite situation right now. My FIL passed away in March and my MIL has made it clear that she has no intention of selling her home. It's too much for her to take care of and it falls entirely on my husband to maintain the house. It's beyond frustrating, but the bottom line is that it's hers and you can't force her to do anything. The sale of a property is a business transaction and should be viewed as such. Mom may not love that property- sounds like you and dad do, but not mom. Bottom line, if she doesn't want to keep it, she doesn't have to.

My suggestion to you is that you drop it entirely. It's not yours and you will come off as selfish if you continue to force this issue. If she elects to put the property on the market, then speak with her then. The real estate agent will tell her what the property is worth. That may be an eye-opener for her and she may be willing to sell it to you without agents/lawyers at a slightly lower cost.

Keep in mind that your parents are in good health right now and when the time comes to have to make this decision, people's feelings may have changed.

Don't force this issue right now because while you are set to inherit the property, it's not yours until they have both passed. Until then, you have expressed your wishes and your opinion doesn't really "count".

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I understand that this place means a lot to you. And, even though your dad has said that it was "family property" and you would inherit it one day, the fact is, the property still belongs to your parents. It's theirs.

Your mom might just be blowing smoke and complaining. She might be considering selling the property because they aren't as comfortably retired as you think they are.
You feel your mother is being cold and business like. She may think she is being wise and business like even if she thinks she can get more for the property than she can in reality. She can ask a million dollars for something worth 50,000. It doesn't mean she'll get it.

I also think it would be a big mistake to try to sidestep your mother in any way on this by going to your father and trying to get him to go along with YOUR plan.
My in laws lived in the same house for 40 years. Well, my mother in law wanted to sell it and buy a new home. She took me with her to look at different homes and she found one she really liked. She wanted it. She was so excited. And....they had more than enough money to afford it. My husband put his foot down and told her NO. Absolutely NO. She wasn't selling the house he had grown up in...the only house the grandkids had ever known. It hurt her so much. He guilted her out of doing something she really wanted and after she died, guess who ended up selling the house anyway?
We've been divorced 14 years and I've still never forgiven him for that.
She was a grown woman. She had raised her kids, she had sacrificed for her grandkids and taxied them around to their events and sports activities.
Why he thought she didn't have the right to make a decision for herself or do something to maker herself happy will never make sense to me.

Please don't come between your mom and dad over this. Please don't try to put your happy and fond memories before her right to make decisions for herself regarding things that are her own business. She sounds far from needing to be declared incompetent so you're just going to have to relax a bit about this.
I really do mean that in the nicest way.

Best wishes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Your mom sounds a lot like mine - no sentimental attachment to anything! You can't make her keep the property if she doesn't want to, but if she does put it on the market, you could certainly buy it. If $X is way more than market value, she only quoted that price because she knew you couldn't afford it. When/if she puts it on the market, she will have to list it for a realistic price if she really wants to sell. I'd let it drop and see what happens. You did say that your parents are in good health, etc., so this may not be an issue for quite a long time!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You say your dad has been talking about making more happy memories there, while at the same time your mom is talking about selling. Are your dad and mom not even talking to each other about this property? It sounds like they are not on the same page at all -- as if maybe she has this fixed idea that they will definitely sell, while he is blithely blind to what she is saying. The two of them must first come to an agreement over the property's future before you and your husband can even think about buying it from them. Talk to your dad and see if you can wake him up to the fact your mom seems serious about selling. I would bet that she hasn't consulted anyone about really putting it on the market or finding out a realistic market price.

I would not pay any HOA fees, upkeep or anything else until mom and dad are on the same page. If they do indeed sell to someone else, you will just be out of the money you paid for those fees (though it is great of you to offer this and is the right thing to do!). If you really are that attached to the property, then do try to buy it; your dad may be able to convince your mom to let your family buy it.

I would never, never co-own it with them, however; that would be a recipe for a huge family rift if later Mom goes back to "I insist we sell to someone else" mode. Please believe me and take it from this stranger -- I have never, ever seen any good come of family members co-owning homes; rifts and strife have always been the outcome.

The idea of your buying it may upset her because she still uses the property and she fears you will be cold to the idea of her and your dad going there if you are the owners. (Even if you swear she can use it until she dies, she may still feel this way -- you can't read or interpret her feelings, only her actions.) She may not be saying this but using her "I want $X" as a way to shut down your discussion of a purchase by you. You might ask her, "Mom, are you concerned that if we buy the house, you and dad won't be welcome to use it after that?" I bet she'll say "No" and insist she wants the money. But it's worth asking.

Also, you say your folks are OK financially but there may be financial problems there of which you are not aware, which could make her worried about having enough money as they age. Their generation was taught to keep money worries private even from their adult children, so dont' assume that they are doing fine; ask your dad frankly if there is an issue with needing money. (And hope he tells you the truth if there is.) Or it could be that though they are OK right now financially, she is just plain afraid of "what might happen if our investments go wrong, or if we can't sell our main home, or if our bank goes under...." etc. Older people worry about these things a lot, I find, and that may be behind some of her cold determination to sell the house eventually -- she sees it as a buffer against an old age of poverty (even if she's not poor now!).

Ultimately, too, prepare yourself emotionally to love the house now and lose it later. It's hard to give up a place with childhood memories but you will build your own with your young family wherever you are. Losing the house to some other buyer -- and being able to let it go gracefully and without rancor -- would sure beat a permanent rift with your parents over a piece of property, however wonderful that property may be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My main thought is that they may be having financial issues that you are not aware of. I know you're going to assure all of us that they are perfectly find, but you really just don't know.

I wouldn't get upset over a "what if". Let alone, someone else's "what if". They currently have no plans to sell, so leave it alone. You are getting mad about something that hasn't happened yet. Save your energy.

Even if she is serious, if your mom thinks she's actually going to get whatever ridiculous asking price she wants for the home, she's living in a dreamworld. Everyone thinks their house is worth more than it actually is, especially in a down economy.

This is honestly between your parents. I'd be more concerned about the fact they seem to tell you more than they are telling each other, in regards to their feelings on the house. It's kind of scary.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If push comes to shove, I think that I, personally, would work around your mother. If she's truly being unreasonable and nothing you do or say can convince her to keep the property, then go through your dad.

Discuss it with him, let him know what your mother is saying, and ask that he somehow (like, in his will) make it so she can't sell it unless the rest of the family agrees. I'm sure that he wouldn't want to take that from you and wouldn't be pleased if your mother did.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well, could there be something your mom and dad aren't telling you? Like maybe they're having some money troubles? Maybe they NEED to sell it for X-amount of dollars in order to clear up some debts that they're struggling with. Maybe they don't want to burden you with their problems. I can understand being upset by this and it sounds like a wonderful place to make many great memories with your own family now, but truth is, it's your parents property. If you feel strongly enough about this place then is it possible for you to buy it for how much she is asking? You're her daughter. I would think that there has got to be some good reason why she won't give it to you for cheaper. If you have a comfortable relationship with your parents, then maybe ask if they're in a bind. It might help you understand better and be able to accept it. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Maybe she is trying to protect you a little. It's as if she is not wanting you to carry the burden of a second place, even if you think you can
(or really can) afford it. I agree with others to hold on until they actually put it on the market (it may never even come to that) and then make an offer. Like a lot of people, she probably thinks she can get more for the property than she really will. When the offers aren't rolling in at the above-market price, they may consider something more fair. I like the idea of a straw buyer that someone else mentioned.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I can understand your concern. Maybe you could call your mom when you're in a good mood and let her know how you feel--telling her about your memories and your wish for your son. Maybe she'll change her mind. Hope so! I wish my family had a vacation place I could go to!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You can't convince her to keep the property. Worst case if she puts it on the market you use a straw buyer to purchase it.


I don't think she is pulling a high amount to put it out of your reach. My dad thinks his house is worth a hell of a lot more than it is. I just roll my eyes and go with it. Nothing you can really do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi, never been through this situation. I wonder if you have spoken to your dad about these recent conversations with your mother? Perhaps there is something else going on that you mother hasn't shared with you? Or maybe your dad could talk with her about how hurtful this is to you. I wouldn't let it worry you at this point. All you can do it let both your parents know how special it is to you and ask them BOTH to give a fair opportunity to own it if the time ever comes. That's about all you can do now. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have and what I have learned is that it is better to keep the memories and determine how I'm going to make some new ones for my family rather than getting all bent out of shape over something that means alot to me but doesn't belong to me.

Let it go and move on to the next thing. Perhaps you and your husband can figure out ways to save money to get your OWN place to create these wonderful memories in. Different stress over your own stuff verses being left to the kindness or lack thereof of another.

For your own and familial health, let that vacation home go. It's not yours and may never be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I think down-sizing is very common for seniors to think about. It alleviates some burden in upkeep she may be feeling. I would be very honest and
compliment your parents on the wonderful childhood they created for you
and that your vacation memories are so meaningful that you hoped to create the same for your family. Find out what the market value is for the home. If you can afford it along with the upkeep, be prepared to make a
reasonable offer and let your parents know they will be welcome there as
always. Ask your mom if there is a reason that she would not want you
to own the home. You probably have pictures of past vacations on the walls of the home. Make sure there are plenty of your parents there also.
As they age and their passing becomes more a reality, they should be comforted knowing that they will be remembered fondly in a place that they
loved. How wonderful to have such a place that hold such memories.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Mayaguez on

Enjoy it as often as you can, and don't worry while you're not using it. Your father will hold on to it as long as you use it. Maybe your mother can rent it out a few times a year to select families, making some $ in the process. That should keep her happy, while still having the property available when you or your parents want to use it.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions