I own a house that was deeded over to myself and 3 other siblings by my Mother back in 2000 or so. Since then my Mother has passed away and one one of the siblings is still living in the home, he was living there whether not Mom passed away over 2 years ago. Myself and the other 2 siblings want to sell the property and split the proceeds 4 ways since there is 4 of us but the problem we are having is the siblings that is still living on the property does a not want to sell and he does not want to move out of the house since he has been living there for quite sometime now.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Any co-owner of real property can force a sale. You do this by filing what is called a partition action. That asks the court to partition the property, which the court can do in one of 2 ways: the court can physically partition (divide up) the property, or it can order the property sold and the proceeds divided up among the owners. A physical partition is usually very difficult, unless there's, say, a 4 acre parcel that could easily be divided into 4 parts. I suspect that in the case with your property, a physical partition would not be possible. Therefore the court would probably order that the property be sold. Unless the sibling who is living there decides to co-operate, things would go forward just like a foreclosure: the court would appoint a committee to hold an auction at noon on some Saturday, and the place would be sold to the highest bidder. Doing it this way is a terrible way to sell the property. First of all, there's the cost of litigation. We would charge a $3500 retainer to start the lawsuit. The filing fee is $375, the marshal fee is $150 +/-, you have to have the property appraised ($500), and the title searched ($400). The committee would charge about $2500. the sale has to be advertised in the newspaper ($1400 +/-) and, worst of all, you are stuck with whatever the highest bid is at the auction, and the people who show up at these auctions are looking for a bargain, so the bids are very low. You would get some, but not all, of those costs of litigation back from the proceeds, but you have to pay some of them up front. Now, because this is such a lousy way to sell property, when the recalcitrant party (the sibling living there) is threatened with a partition action, and goes to a lawyer who explains to him the facts of life (i.e., that he can't stop the sale and that he'll get a lot more for his 25% if he goes along with a regular sale of the property using a real estate agent, rather than getting a lower price and having all those expenses with a partition), usually they come to their senses and agree to list the property. Sometimes they get hard-headed and force you to go the partition route, and if so, so be it. At least you know that you can force the sale, one way or another. We'd be happy to help you by writing the sibling an explanatory letter, and by bringing the partition action, if necessary.