Quickie: “We’re Buying My Boyfriend’s Mother’s House, But She Won’t Move Out!”


I have a very difficult decision to make in an incredibly short period of time. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost five years now. We decided it was time to live together as well as get a place of our own. Well, it so happens that my boyfriend’s mother is unable to keep up her mortgage and will need to sell her home. My boyfriend thought it would be a good idea for us to buy his mother’s home since he’s already living there and is comfortable. After doing my research I decided on going with his mother’s house because of the current housing costs. I moved into her house prior to finalizing the documents because my lease was up. His mother is not well so she decided to move into the basement of the house instead of completely moving out. We said it would be okay, but after living in the same house for one week now I want to kill myself.

This lady is so possessive, controlling, selfish and territorial. Everything has to be done her way, she asks so many questions about things that are none of her business, she always wants something material, she’s always complaining and whining about her pain and suffering, and she refers to every part of the house as hers. She agreed to sell it to us, but I don’t know if I can tolerate her at all. I am angry at her sight and constantly crying.

I told my boyfriend how I feel. He said that, if I don’t want to continue with the purchase, we don’t have to. I’m already in the mortgage process and have started some construction on the house. I don’t know what to do; I’m so lost. Please help!!! — The Mortgage Isn’t the Highest Cost

Get out now and move into a home your boyfriend’s mother does not live in and has never owned. Even if you can’t afford to buy another place right now, it’s best to stop the buying process on this home and just move into a rental. Actually, even if you CAN afford to buy a different place, I’d still stick with a rental if you still plan to live with your boyfriend. To go from him living with his mother to him living with you is already a big transition. Give it a year of cohabitating before you decide to commit to buying property together.

For now, buying a home from your boyfriend’s mother, whom you don’t get along with and who plans to live in your basement and boss everyone around and continue acting like she owns the place, is a recipe for disaster. If she can’t afford her mortgage, she needs to sell the house (but not to you) and move into a home she can afford. People do it all the time. And if your boyfriend isn’t ready to move out of his mother’s house, where he’s so comfortable, maybe he’s not ready to live with you or to be away from his mom. Better you accept that now than after you’ve closed on his mother’s house.

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  1. WWS, stop the buying process now and move out! If it’s unbearable in the first week, it’s not going to get better anytime soon. You can’t kick her out without damaging your relationship and can’t expect her to move out on her own anytime soon. Another place may be more expensive, but what’s the price on your well-being? Stop now before you make an irreversible financial decision (buying jointly means you’re on the hook for the whole thing). Then work on actually finding a place of your own with your boyfriend.

  2. while i agree with wendy, not buying this house isnt really going to solve the real issue here, which is going to end up being your boyfriend’s mom’s elderly care. i dont know if you and he are on the forever train, but if you are, you are going to have to figure out a way to deal with this other then just running away from it. if you arent, well, just dont buy this house and go on with your life and let him deal with his mother.

    1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      The fact that she owned it and has viewed it as her home makes a big difference. Even if she sells it to them she will always have the feeling that it’s her turf and she is the woman of that house. She won’t stop complaining in a different house and she won’t turn into a different person but it may put up some boundaries, which is something the lw desperately needs to have.

      1. I agree with this. I think owning a completely different house, or renting, will help with boundaries. But also like Katie said, this woman, who doesn’t have great health will always be a part of their life. Can the LW deal with that? Someone who wants to take care of his aging parent? A parent that the LW can’t stand after just a week?

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Yes. This is also a HUGE adjustment for Mom. Great point!

      3. simonthegrey says:

        This is why, when my husband’s parents decided to retire and move, and offered for us to buy their house, I said no. I love my mother in law; we get along really well. However, that is their home, and it will always be *her* home if we buy it, even though she says she would not expect us to keep it the same. I know her. And as I said, I love her and we get along, so I’d like to keep it that way.

    2. Did you get that from “she’s always complaining and whining about her pain and suffering”? I could see that meaning other things, but if it is about elder care, sure I could see that possibly happening down the road. But the timeframe on that is probably more like years and if the LW’s already in the mortgage process, that is maximum like 2 months.

      1. well you never know. my family is talking about elderly care for my father right now, he is almost 70, and i am 25 and my sister is 22.

      2. Regardless if this woman needs elderly care or not, I think the LW needs to think about her boyfriend’s relationship with his mom and decide if it’s something she can live with. Especially if she doesn’t like the woman…. which it could be just the living arrangement and I hope that’s the case… but I think Wendy addressed that in her response. So, WWS.

      3. Ah, the “not well,” missed that. I still stand by what I said, elder care is not as immediate a need as being financially responsible for a house that comes with an ailing relative and the vast majority of the complaints have nothing to do with her health.

    3. I can definitely see where you’re coming from. A conversation about what happens when mom can’t take care of herself on her own is never a bad thing. Especially if the son was already living with her. Was it for convenience for him, did she need the physical help. I’m also a little surprised that a son living with his mother wasn’t helping with the mortgage if it had gotten to the point that she couldn’t keep the house that he was living in. I mean I guess offering to buy it is a help, but I have to wonder if part of her being upset is she doesn’t want to move so unfortunately it’s coming down on the LW.

      Either way the answer is to not buy the house!

    4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Who said anything about her needing elderly care? She can’t afford her mortgage anymore. That isn’t the same as needing assistant caring for herself.

      1. the LW says that she isnt well. i think its a logical conclusion to come to, maybe not *right now*, but it will be coming. add that to the fact that she cant pay her mortgage, she will be needing more assistance as she ages then someone who would otherwise be able to pay for a mortgage.

      2. I agree that there is foreshadowing of parental care: “His mother is not well so she decided to move into the basement of the house [note: not “stay in the basement for a while”] instead of completely moving out” and “she’s always complaining and whining about her pain and suffering.” Whether the mother really needs care or is simply acting like she needs care to get her way… idk.

      3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        That said, I don’t know what the LW meant by “His mother is not well,” so maybe she does need some kind of care. Or maybe she just had a cold and didn’t feel like moving. Or maybe she was using some excuse to stay in her own home while her son and her son’s girlfriend paid for it.

      4. I kind of took that as meaning she’s not in good health. But you’re right, it could be just a cold. Who knows?

  3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    I still can’t figure out why people think buying real estate from a family member is a good idea. IDK if I’ve ever heard of it going well. (and cue all the responses where it did go well.)

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Also, it is Friday right???

      1. Friday the 13th!

      2. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        And a full moon. Cue the x-files theme song.

      3. And it’s a Honey Moon and Strawberry Moon. OoooOOOooo!

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Ahhh so this is why I feel wonky today. Not the 5 beers I had last night…

    2. I’m seriously considering buying my parents’ farm when they move into town. I love the property, I love the location, and in the long run I want to live in the country again.

      1. I would probably knock down some walls in the house though — it’s an old farm house and it definitely doesn’t utilize the space very well.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I would LOVE to buy my parents house/farm, but I just can’t imagine the potential conflicts. You know like, I didn’t put the rake back in the “right” place. Ugh.

      3. My aunt bought the farm my Grandpa grew up on. Nobody lives there, we just have the and, and the barn, and the old decrepit house. She bought it when the last of his brothers who had lived there on his life needed elderly care. We wanted to keep it in the family. If I ever needed to move back home, I would LOVE to re-build the house. I would totally do the whole farm thing.

      4. Ooh, also, if my Grandpa’s sister in law had it her way, the farm and land would have been sold and parceled off, which depresses me to no end. I grew up going to that farm on a regular basis, and we still go out there. I love that effing place.
        All original owners have now passed away, including my Grandpa. When I have his eulogy, the farm was featured heavily in it.

      5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Our farm is similar. It’s an old old old family estate type thing, and my dad’s siblings who are going to inherit it are all talking about parceling. I think it’s ridiculous and my dad is trying to stop it.

      6. what does parceling mean?

      7. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        Splitting the land up.

      8. I wish your dad lots of luck!
        My grandpa’s sister in law thinks they could have gotten more money if they sold it to a developer, but my aunt paid a fair market value. Thank god we got it.
        In other news, the farm house was ransacked one evening and some of the old furniture stolen. We think the sister in law had something to do with it.

      9. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        That’s terrible!! There is so much old farm equipment at our place. I want to do something with it. It’s all so interesting.

      10. My uncle bought my grandparent’s farm after my grandma died. He wanted to keep it in the family, so his siblings gave him a good deal on it, selling their ‘shares’ for less than market value. Sadly, due to construction up river, the water tables changed and the city declared the whole farm swampland, meaning my uncle couldn’t build on the property. He ended up selling it to a condo developer who would afford to put in pump systems to change the water table back to make the land buildable again. But it still makes me sad it’s no longer in the family (it had been for about 5 generations).

      11. Haha I could see that. My dad is the same way. Their property is so gorgeous and the location is awesome. It’s in the country, but still within an hours’ drive to a major city so it’s not in the middle of nowhere. I have a ton of ideas for how to make it my own place.

      12. I don’t understand the thumbs down

    3. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      My dad really wanted me to buy their house, which is gorgeous but I told him no way in hell. My mother already nitpicks how I arrange things in my house, I can’t imagine how it would be if I painted over walls she painted or decorated differently. Not to mention I could not get turned on in my parents master bedroom. Yuck.

      1. artsygirl says:

        A good friend of mine was ‘encouraged’ by her parents to move into an income property they owned. She refused because it came with a ton of strings (including not letting her BF of a few years move in) and she saw it has a potential landmine of family arguments.

      2. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I see everything as a potential landmine of family arguments.

    4. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Yeah I agree. It seems way too much “mixing business and family” for me. Just start fresh. And in this case – I mean I feel for the LW – but how did she think this was going to end well? I’m assuming his Mother didn’t just start acting possession and territorial and crazy over night. Maybe she’s around it more – but people don’t just become crazy. Crazy is in them. If her boyfriend has always had mommy issues I highly doubt they just popped up out of nowhere.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I can’t imagine moving into my parents house, displacing them to the basement (agreed upon or not) AND completely changing the landscape of the home. Of course feelings will be hurt, territorial-ness will come out, conflicts will arise. The only way I can even fathom taking over a family home is for the previous owner to completely move out and to like Australia.

    5. A long time ago, me and my sister had a discussion about what was going to happen to our parents’ house one day. I was pretty much like, if you want the house, it’s yours! Then they moved, so I think both of us are safe (it was more about living in the house she grew up in anyway).

    6. lets_be_honest says:

      Before I got the house, I had a right of first refusal on my mom’s and recently some issues came up with my grandparents’ vacation home and we seriously considered/offered buying it. I think the catch is you just have to have every single little thing agreed to in writing, make sure your family is mostly sane and not even consider a private mortgage through them.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        “mostly sane” that might be the hardest to come by!

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Haha, I first wrote just sane and then added mostly.

    7. its funny to hear so many people talking about getting their family’s land… my dad is in the process now of selling everything. he told me that he doesnt want to do to my sister and i what his parents did to him and leave him with so many hassles in the form of houses and land and legal-problem-having stuff like that.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I’ve seen some nightmares with people trying to sell property left to them. If you don’t actually want the property, it suckkkks.

    8. AliceInDairyland says:

      Muahaha, did you know I would chime in here? We’re living with the “in-laws-sort-of” right now, and moving into a house across the road that Benjamin bought from his Mom. But it’s across the street and she never lived in it and she’s mostly sane so I think it’s all good.

      But yeah, I can’t imagine trying to pull that off with my family. My grandma had the loveliest farm with 40 acres and a little farmhouse. And 5 kids including my mom. Stuff got really out of control including a restraining order on one brother and long story short now it’s being sold and somewhat parceled up which makes me a bit sad. 🙁

  4. LW, is this the first time you realized how controlling this woman is? Or was it just magnified by the fact that you were living with her? It sounds like your boyfriend is very close to his mom seeing as he has been living with her. Since you’ve been together for 5 years I’m guessing this isn’t the first time you’ve realized that she isn’t a very nice person. I mention this because when you (general “you”) jump on the forever train, you also accept/marry into their family. If you want to make this a forever thing with your boyfriend this woman *will* be part of your life even if you don’t buy the house from her. In my opinion it’s important to address those concerns and talk with your boyfriend about drawing boundaries.

    1. Oh, so much this. And if she’s *already* bad before you’re married, it will only get worse. I just told my husband last night that I wish I could have married him and not taken on his mother as well…

  5. Stop he buying process, help him get his mother into assisted living I she is really that sick, if not let her worry about getting a new place. It sounds like your boyfriend is a momma’s boy who is never going to let go, and his mother is always going to be in he picture, so if you don’t like that then I suggest getting out of that situation at some point.

  6. Laura Hope says:

    It’s got to be really painful to have to live in the basement of your own home while your son and his girlfriend take over your bedroom, your kitchen, your living room etc. Older people tend to find change very difficult so I understand her attachment to the home. But no wonder she’s miserable. She needs to move, and frankly it would be much healthier for you and your boyfriend to start a new life in a new home. (by the way, I understand your frustration over her bad behavior, but try to put yourself in her shoes and have a little compassion)

    1. Also, why start construction on a house before you own it? That seems weird to me, and a very easy thing to wait a few months on.

      1. It is weird, but maybe they figured since it was family, they could do it? Unless there’s something really structurally wrong with the house, construction can wait.

  7. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    Oh and also – no matter how far along you are in the buying process – that time is sunk time. Let it go. Don’t carry on down a bad road just because you’ve started that journey. Stop. Turn around. And run in the other direction. Whatever construction has started can be stopped and you might not get all your money back but you should get some of it.

  8. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

    Yeaaahh, she’s never going to leave. I’m sorry, LW, but as soon as you mentioned she moved into the basement that was the indicator. She may have agreed to sell it to you, but she’s not intending to find a new home. Your bf cares about her, and even though he’s said that you guys don’t have to continue with the purchase, I bet you that even when you two find a different home, sweet MIL-to-be will be living with you soon enough.

    1. Yes, exactly! What if you get a different place and she loses her home and moves to YOUR basement “until she feels better”? Are you sure your boyfriend can handle saying no to her? If he can, why isn’t he doing it now?

  9. WWS! Do NOT go through with buying that house!

    There’s an old story about a man (couldn’t find it on google) who bought a house from another man at a very reasonable cost. The seller asked only to be allowed the use of one nail in the wall in one room.

    After the sale, almost every day the former owner would show up with a different picture or ornament or almost anything (dead cat?) to hang on the nail. It was like the guy still owned the house, lived there, and was determined to drive them back out.

  10. I would be very wary of a man who said “Sure! it’s time to live together. So how about I stay where I am and you and my mum switch places? I’m just so comfortable here. Also, she’s not leaving. Sure, you can just not come.”

      1. iseeshiny says:

        I went the same place!

  11. lets_be_honest says:

    Have you looked at Wendy’s lists of things to discuss prior to cohabitation? Because a big one that sticks out for me is discussing how you will handle it when your family/parents need help (I think that’s on there at least). This living situation will certainly not be the last issue you have relating to your MIL.
    Anyway, quick story: I lived with my boyfriend for several years in a rental before we committed to buying a home and it was definitely rocky when we first lived together. So many adjustments. I figured we were in the clear once we decided to buy a house. That was still a huge adjustment, even after having lived together for quite a while. Please don’t buy a house together if you’ve never lived together. Its too big a commitment I think.
    Also, WWS 100%!

    1. yea i feel like buying property together is more important then even getting married a lot of time? like you can still be legally married and live apart ect, but if you break up and own a home and you are still on the hook for the mortgage…..

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Yup. Its also a good idea, LW, to have an agreement between the two of you that provides for what happens if you split – one buys the other out, who moves, etc.

  12. I don’t really see another solution other than stopping your purchase of the house. I think it was a mistake to buy it in the first place. The mother will always think of it as hers as long as she lives there. I can understand her feelings, and yours too. And I love, love, love Wendy’s suggestion of living together for a year before you buy property. I wish more people would do that. So many things change when you live with someone, things you haven’t even thought about. Buying property is a huge commitment and very hard to get out of if something goes wrong. (At least with all your money intact.) Best to stop this thing now while you can.

  13. artsygirl says:

    I am a firm believer in never mixing family and finances. There is nothing worse than sharing Thanksgiving dinner with someone that screwed you over (either intentionally or accidentally)

  14. bittergaymark says:

    Yeah. Yikes. I so wouldn’t have bought this house. But the price of getting out just might be blowing up this relationship. Not that that would be the end of the world. But yeah, I’d be prepared for that.

    1. veracityb says:

      I also thought that backing out will definitely be difficult both for the future relationship with the mother and the boyfriend, who may get backlash from the mother.. but there really is no way you should go ahead if you’re this stressed already. I’d definitely stop the purchasing process now.

    2. The relationship is going to take a hit if the LW backs out, for sure. But that’s better than going through with it, then breaking up and owning a part of your ex-boyfriend’s mother’s old house.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Agreed, I am just saying be ready for that. DW LWs tend to hang onto the worst of relationships like desperate rats clinging to debris from a sinking ship.

      2. parton_doll says:

        I couldn’t help but giggle at this mental picture.

  15. The biggest thing for me that stuck out was: What the hell happens if you and your boyfriend break up? You bought his mother’s home, HIS home, and now you have to get rid of the both of them in one fell swoop.

    Honey, it’s not worth it. I recommend NEVER buying a house with a mere boyfriend (sorry boyfriends of the world – but follow the timeline. Engaged, married, then house.). There are just too many what-ifs of buying from the boyfriend’s family – especially when it appears that the mother has no intention of moving.

    My other thought on the subject – where was the boyfriend with financial help for his mother prior to her necessity of selling the home? Why couldn’t HE have taken over the payments and just kept the house in her name? Or taken it over himself? Does he not have enough money for that? If so – buying a HOUSE with him isn’t a good financial plan.

    I’m concerned that none of this has been thought through very well. If you follow through with buying this home, you will have a woman you will never be able to get rid of. You and your boyfriend will have HIS family pressuring you not to kick his mother out of “her home”. Stop the purchase as soon as possible and move out. If the boyfriend really wants to live with you, he’ll move too. If not, then both he and his mother will be homeless soon.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      There are just as many “what ifs” if you get married.

      1. Agreed. The only real difference I see is whether you have had conversations about these hard topics. Marriage isn’t magic and won’t force conversations, it’s a legally-binding agreement. So is a mortgage.

    2. Right, why isn’t this dude contributing to the mortgage of the house he lives in if he’s an adult who can supposedly afford half the house? He’s living off his mum and now mum can’t pay their way anymore so he enlists girlfriend to pay for the three of them? This is awful.

  16. I agree with AKchic. Buying a house with a boyfriend is not a good idea. Unless there are clearly agreed terms (in writing!) about how to deal with the house in case of a breakup.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I agree with this—the things in writing part. But why is it any different for a married couple? I mean, they would also have to figure out how to split shit in a divorce.

      1. wouldnt that be under a pre-nup? or a post-nup when buying a house? or i guess in the laws of divorce in your state?

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Not everyone has a pre-nup or post-nup.

      3. …. but everyone can get one? a pre-nup is for before a legal marriage, a post nup is for after a legal marriage.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, everyone can if they both agree to it, which would present a problem if you are in the midst of breaking up and decide YOU are the one who deserves the house or whatever. That’s my point – if you get to the point you are splitting and its not amicable, then whether you are married or not isn’t going to change the ‘what to do with the house’ issue. I guess in divorce, you can force liquidation though.

      5. oh yea. the breakup is not the time to decide how to split up a house.

      6. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Well, duh I know what they are. But you can draft similar agreements re: home ownership in the event of the relationship not working out even if you’re not married. Two people not married can just as much protect themselves/work shit out before a break up in contractual form as any married couple can.

      7. I think couples who buy property together before getting married are far more likely to discuss these issues and put these details into writing than married couples. Property is included in a divorce but a non-married couple has to deal with co-owned property by itself.

      8. Simonthegrey says:

        My experience proves contrary: no one discusses these issues or puts them in writing. Not married couples, not other couples. No one likes to think about “what if we break up” or “what if one of us dies” because we want to remain in the positive. So they don’t get discussed. Married couples have some legal precedent for separating assets merely because the state recognizes the union and the dissolution thereof. But I don’t think the end of one is more or less difficult than the other, or more or less fraught, or more or less likely to implode.

      9. I think the big difference is in the event of divorce, there are usually other co-owned assets, so there is – in theory, at least – the option of getting other assets in the divorce in the event one person doesn’t want to or cannot afford to buy the other one out of the house. Unless the LW and her BF own other assets together or something, if they break up, either the BF has to buy her out (or, I guess she could buy him out and kick them out if she really wants the house) or they have to sell the house for her to get her investment back. That’s got drama all over it. I mean, it’s great if he can get a loan and buy her out. No problem. But if he can’t…is she going to have some sort of agreement where he pays her in installments for her share of the house or is she going to force him and his mother out of his childhood home so they can sell the house? I can’t even imagine dealing with that.

  17. This situation sounds awful & I can guarantee, if you continue, your relationship will more than likely end. While I understand what the other comments are saying ab sympathizing w/ her, it still doesn’t change the fact that it is a completely toxic environment that you don’t need to put yourself through.
    I’m currently living w/ my bf in an efficiency at his mom’s but we already have a move out date in a couple of months. While his mom is not as bad as your MIL, she is very nosy & also makes comments on things that are none of her business, also she is having a difficult time accepting we are moving to our own place.
    Example: She’s already told me several times that she doesn’t believe her son should be moving out so soon (we are both 26 & have decent jobs AND have been together 6 yrs) & should continue living w/ her for another yr at least to save $. Now, she’s resorting to finding apartments that are literally 1 block away from her & keeps telling us to go & look at the place. All in all- she’s not accepting that we are moving forward w/our lives.
    Among other things she’s done, it’s been difficult living there but luckily, my bf understands his mom is the way she is & also accepts & understands that I cannot deal or live with that. So he just ignores her or tells her no thank you when she starts giving us apt listings. I am counting down the days until the lease is up!

    Basically- you need your bf on your side. If he’s not- then it’s best you move on bc why live in that disaster? It’s only going to affect your health- mentally & physically. Have a serious talk w/ him & let him know you truly cannot live w/ that. He can, bc it’s his mom & he’s used to it- but you’re not & cannot/will not continue living this way… If that means breaking up- so be it. You’ll be better off in the long run. (this is how I had to break it down for my bf & he ended up completely understanding).

  18. Run, run like the wind. Cut your losses before you get in any deeper.

  19. tbrucemom says:

    I don’t think this sounds like an ideal situation but based on the LW’s comments it sounds like its a nice home that they’re getting a good deal on. It also sounds like she doesn’t actually own it yet so maybe that’s why the mother is still referring to it as hers. Why would you start construction on a home that you don’t own yet as others have mentioned? I do think the mother doesn’t sound like she’s well. Maybe the mother is really not doing well and the boyfriend thinks its a win win to have her living in the basement where he can watch her. I don’t know there’s more questions I’d like to ask before being able to comment constructively.

  20. Breezy AM says:

    Am I the only one thinking “it’s been a week; calm the fuck down.”?

    Because like, it’s been a week. Calm the fuck down. Stop trying to re-arrange everything. Have some compassion like the poster above said.

    You want to kill yourself over this? Really? Wow. Seriously you need to calm down.

    I would give it six months, depending how well you and boyfriend get along outside this and how long you’ve known one another. And I wouldn’t do a damn thing for renos in that house for three months.

    This is all going way too fast. No wonder you’re having problems. I mean it could work, but not like this.

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