Auction off half the property

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Auction off half the property

My mom and her brother are owners of 2 pieces of land and a house. Her brother is a felon and pulled a gun on my sister and her kids so he is currently in jail and has no money but somehow has a high paying lawyer. My mom thinks he is using his half of the property to pay for it. Today an appraiser showed up to appraise the land saying that her brother is selling his half of the property. My mom is currently living on the property in the house with my sister. Can he legally auction off his

Asked on November 22, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Anyone can sell their personal interest in real estate unless there is specifically a written agreement to the contrary. However, all he can sell is what he has: so if has an "undivided" interest--i.e. he's half owner of everthing, not 100% owner of 1/2--the buyer does not automatically get half the land, etc. Rather, the buyer gets a 1/2 interest in the whole, but could then--if the buyer and your mother cannot agree or work out what to do with the property--bring a legal action for "partition" in which the buyer asks the court to order the sale of the land and distribution of the proceeds, or its physical division if that is practical, because the owners cannot agree as to what to do with the property. That is the remedy the law provides when owners find themselves at loggerheads: requesting a court order determining disposition of the property.


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