Can I be forced to sell my 1/3 ownership in a house and property?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be forced to sell my 1/3 ownership in a house and property?

I recently inherited ownership in a house and roughly 250 acres along with my 2 siblings. The accessed tax value is around 1.5 million. The local real estate company has looked at the property

and thinks it would list at that value also. My 2 siblings want to sell but I do not. They have only offered to sell their third to myself at $400,000 each. I cannot afford to buy them out at that asking price. Even if the property was listed at 1.5 M, it doesn’t mean we would get that offer so I do not feel the 1.2M family discount is very attractive as that may be what it would bring from any buyer. I offered $250,000 to each but it was not accepted. The property is still in my parents’ names and has not been recorded to reflect our names in the courthouse. They have mentioned to force a sale. If I do not wish to sell and cannot afford the price they are asking, can they force me to sell my interest in this property?

Asked on May 9, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They cannot force you to sell to them, but any owner of property can, if he/she and his/her cowners cannot voluntarily work out what to do with the property, bring a kind of legal action traditionally called an action "for partition." In this legal action or lawsuit, the court can force that the propety be put on the market and placed for sale; when it is sold, any costs of sale or mortgages, liens, etc. will be paid from the proceeds, then the remaining proceeds will be divided among the owners. This is the recourse the law gives owners who can't agree on what to do with property: to sell it, get their money, and go their separate ways. Since the property is still in your parents' names, this can't be done yet--they are not the owners (just as you are not yet an owner)--but once the property is titled in your respective names, they could do this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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