My brother and I inherited a house, he wants to sell it, but I want to keep it and live in it

Our grandmother passed away a couple years ago and left her house to my brother and I. The house is now in both of our names. He is 23 I’m 26. I work freelance and have about $10,000 saved in total in the bank. My brother doesn’t work at all. I have been keeping up all property tax, insurance utilities since our grandmother’s passing all on my own without him helping out a bit. He now wants to sell the house, but I want to keep it, as it’s my current living residence also want to keep it within the family. The house is appraised for about $130,000. My brother wants as much as he can get, all at once. In my grandmother’s Will, she stated that if one of us wanted to sell, that the other brother would have to pay the other off or sell the house. But now since it’s been put in our names, does any of that matter

from her Will? Do I have any legal leverage in this matter, if I don’t want to sell the house and I don’t have enough to pay him his lump sum of 50-60k?

Asked on March 25, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your brother can force a sale of the house. He can file for what is known as a "partition" action. This is a legal remedy used when the co-owner's of jointly held property cannot agree as to ownership matters. In such an action, the court will order that they property be equally divided, if practical. If not, as in the case of a single family house, then the property will be ordered to be sold. The proceeds will then be equitably distributed. First however, before it is put on the open market, the owner who wishes to keep the property will be given a chance to buy out the other owner at fair market value. That having been said, a petition takes both time and money. So you will want to make sure that your brother is aware of that. Also, after the buyer negotiates down the price (as they all do) and the realtor's commission is paid, your brother will get less than he thinks. Further, he may not be entitled to the same share of the proceeds as you, since as a matter of equity, you could ask the court for reimbursement all of expenses that you have covered out of pocket. Bottom line, maybe you can work a buy out of his share for far less than the $40,000-$50,000 that you mentioned. Hopefully then, that would be a price that you could afford.

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