What to do if co-owners of real estate won’t sell?

UPDATED: Jan 9, 2011

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What to do if co-owners of real estate won’t sell?

I co-own a house with 2 other people. I can’t afford the house any more and am willing to sell. They are not. I am willing to foreclose. They are not. They offered to buy me out if I pay them 60k. They are living in the house. I am not. They threatened to garnish my wages if I stop paying. What can I do? I feel trapped.

Asked on January 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The  law provides a remedy for such a situation as this.  In cases where joint owners cannot agree on whether or not to sell a piece of real estate, the party seeking the sale can go to court and file an action for “partition”.  A partition can be accomplished by physical division, if practicable.  However, this is a single-family home, so physical division won't work.  Therefore, a judge would order a "partition by sale".

Once the property is sold, the proceeds are equitably distributed to the owners.  Although before a sale would be ordered, typically the court would permit the non-filing co-owner(s) to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner for fair market value.

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