If my name is on the deed with 3 others and not the loan, what rights do I have?

My mother, stepfather and I bought a house 7 years ago that has been my primary residence. My name is on the deed but not the mortgage. I have contributed to all expenses but have no record of it.

We also have began to build apoximately a 1500 sq. ft. addition. My mother has paid for the expenses of that entirely. I want out. For whatever reasons, I want 1/3 of the current market value for the property minus the addition. Am I entitled to that? What options do I have? What steps do I take to attain that? Are they obligated to pay me 1/3 of the current market value, 1/3 of the equity or nothing if I want to be bought out?

Asked on September 2, 2017 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They are not required to buy you out, unless you had an actual written agreement/contract with your family obligating them to do so. But in the absence of a buy-out agreement, the other owners do not have to buy you out. You can of course try to negotiate a buy out with them--and should. Generally, it would be based on the equity, not the market value, so if you and they can work something out for  a share of the equity, that would be the best outcome.
If you can't work something out, you have the right to bring a legal action (lawsuit), commonly called an action "for partition." When the owners of property cannot agree as to what to do with it, a court can order that the property be sold (under a court-supervised, in some way, sale) and the proceeds, after paying the costs of sale and any mortgages, HELOCs, liens, taxes due, etc., be split between the owners. There can be adjustments for *provable* excess payments or contributions by one person, but you must be able to prove them. In the absence of such provable contributions, one of three owners would get 1/3 of the proceeds of sale after paying the costs of sale, loans, etc.
Of course, bringing a lawsuit like this can itself be expensive; will take months at a minimum; and will undoubtedly caused family strife--it is MUCH better to work things out voluntarily, even if you end up getting less than you hope. If you want to explore the lawsuit option, speak with a real estate attorney.

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