Does a third owner deserve their down payment back when the house is sold?

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Does a third owner deserve their down payment back when the house is sold?

My mother, husband and I bought a house and my mother chose to put $21,000 down. We’re selling the house now. My mother believes that she deserves her entire down payment back out of the sale proceeds, plus half of the rest. How does this work? Does she have legal standing?

Asked on February 13, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In the absence of some agreement to the contrary, her right is to one-third of the proceeds of the house (after paying any mortgage or costs of sale). It certainly would have been legal, and likely very reasonable and fair, for her to have gotten her down payment back and then a third of the balance, but for that to have happened, it should have been in a written agreement among the three of you. Without an agreement to this effect, she simply has her right as one-third owner to one-third the profit.


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