Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Washington

i have had a house on owner contract for the last 7 years., paid mortgage and taxes, and all bills myself, since i had the house the equity went from 60000 in the hole to 80000. the original owner wants to end the contract, am i entitled to ther equity...

Asked on 3/12/17, 8:33 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

For purposes of this answer, I am taking your question to mean that you have a contract to purchase the home you live in, whereby the owner carries papers on the property, and thereby retains their name on the mortgage and title, while you pay off the owner.

To get to the answer to your question, it depends on what your contract says. In theory, even if this point is not addressed in the contract, you should be entitled to keep the equity, since you theoretically purchased the property the moment you entered into the contract, in the same way a conventional buyer with a mortgage purchases a property at the same time the mortgage holder paid the seller of the property, and thus the mortgage holder issued a mortgage. The point is that the mortgage holder, like you, owns the property and can generally do with it as they will, with some exceptions, but if you or the mortgage holder fail to make your agreed upon payments, you may lose the property in foreclosure proceedings.

If the original owner wants the contract to end, again, depending on how it is written, I don't see how they can force this upon you. Is there a mechanism that allows for unilateral termination of the land sales contract? Whatever happens, you need to be careful. Often in land sales contract situations, the buyer is not registered in the chain of title for the property, and unscrupulous sellers sometimes sell the property to another buyer, who may have no reason to know about your situation since your contract is not recorded in the county recorder's offices records. With $80,000 on the line, it may behoove you to consult with a local attorney who can review your contract and give you a more informed opinion.

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Answered on 3/13/17, 9:38 am

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