How to Force a Sale When Other People Share Ownership of the House
As a homeowner, you can decide to sell your home at any time. However, if you own a property with someone else, you can’t sell that property without consent from the other owner or owners.
You can probably imagine that co-ownership of property is an issue if the owners don’t agree about selling. In this case, there are some options to force the sale.
Negotiating a Buyout
The owner who wants to sell can try to buy out the other owners and take full possession of the property. Alternatively, the co-owner who wants to sell can negotiate with the other co-owner(s) to buy them out instead. This tends to be the most desirable option as it allows the seller to sell their share and it allows the co-owner who didn’t want to sell to keep the property.
Note that buyouts are only possible if one co-owner is able to secure the funds necessary for the transaction.
Selling A Property Share to a Non-Owner
As with any asset that is co-owned, each owner has a share of co-owned property. Shares of a home can be sold even if owners disagree about selling. Yes, this means shares of a home can be sold to strangers. However, most strangers don’t want to co-own a home together. So selling property shares like this isn’t a feasible option unless the co-owner knows and likes the new co-owner.
However, in some cases– such as within a marriage –the right to sell co-owned shares of property is suspended.
Getting the Court to Force a Sale
You can obtain a court order to sell a co-owned property if the court finds you have a compelling reason to sell. This is called a partition action. Actual acreage of a property is easy for a court to divide up to co-owners– like with farmland. But when it’s more complicated when it comes to dividing up houses.
The court can’t divide a house in half, so instead, it can force owners to sell, even if they’re unwilling. Profit or loss from the sale is divided among the owners based on their stake. But again, in the case of a married couple, the laws are different.
Be Sure to Address the Mortgage
It’s important to note the legal difference between property deeds and mortgages. Just because a homeowner transfers property ownership to another owner– thus removing themselves from the deed –doesn’t mean the mortgage transfers over too.
After forcing a home sale, it’s necessary to also address the mortgage. A home seller can use the proceeds from the sale to pay off the mortgage. Otherwise, one in this position must ensure that the new owners who are being transferred ownership are able to refinance the loan without you. If the new owners can’t finance it, you might be on the hook to pay for a home you don’t own anymore.
A homeowner can force a sale that is co-owned, either by negotiating a buyout, selling your share to a new owner, or getting a court-forced to sale. A mortgage is an additional legal issue that needs to be addressed in a forced home sale. In any case, it’s best to hire a lawyer who specializes in real estate to assist with the transaction.
If you’re in St. Louis, contact TdD Attorneys at Law for assistance with forced home sales.