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Partition Suit Only Way Out Of Ownership Dispute

Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A

REM #LAW 693

By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Summary: A reader helped a friend with bad credit by purchasing a home with him. The reader's name is on the mortgage but the title is in the name of the friend. Now that the friend has turned up missing, our reader is wondering what recourse they have.

Q: I bought a property in my name for a friend to help him out while he works on his credit. He lives in Georgia and I live in another state. I’m the only one on the loan.
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During the closing, we agreed his name would be included on the title to the home. We did this to enable him refinance the property entirely in his name a few months later. Once this was done, we planned to do a quit claim to transfer full ownership to him.

Unfortunately in past two months, my friend has disappeared on me and I have been stuck with paying the mortgage on "his" property.

My question is, will I legally be able to sell the property without his consent? What are my options? My goal really is to get the loan off my name.

A: You tried helping a friend and now you are left in a precarious situation. You should never have let your friend take title to the home.

But that’s water under the bridge. Now you have to figure out how to unwind the transaction. You have to know this: you won’t be able to take your name off the mortgage unless the loan is paid off or your friend reappears and refinances the property into his name. Otherwise, this loan will always be in your name and on your credit history.

Here’s more bad news: You won’t be able to sell the home unless you find your friend. So, you have two choices. The first is to try harder to find your friend and get him to quitclaim title to the home back to you to allow you to sell the home and salvage whatever equity is in the home.

The second option is to sue your friend for the unpaid bills he has left you with in connection with the home and then try to take his interest in the home to pay his outstanding debts. It may take some time, but a good attorney should be able to help you work on this second option.

Find an attorney who has experience in partition suits – that is a law suit between co-owners of real estate to force one owner to sell or to force all owners to sell.

If there is no income coming in from this property, you need to work fast. You can’t stop paying the mortgage otherwise your credit will be shot. You need to either find him or sue him to extricate yourself from the deal. Good luck.

Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022 or contact them through Ilyce’s website




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