Risk Of Buying A Home With A Friend
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM # LAW 691
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A reader purchased his home with
his old girlfriend. She has since moved out and passed away. Now the old girlfirend's
family owns half of his home. Ilyce and Sam give advice on how to clean up the
ownership issue surrounding this house.
Q: I bought a house with an ex-girlfriend who had moved out a year after we
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Then three years ago she passed away. I now want to refinance my house and
put my new wife on the title. But I’m having a problem with the title
company not willing to clear the title.
We have not been able to contact a next of kin. What can we do?
A: The title company is not the problem. They are doing the right thing. You
probably purchased the home with your ex-girlfriend and took title as tenants
in common – you each own the home fifty-fifty.
The title company has reviewed the title records to your home and has determined
that you only own half of the home. When your ex-girlfriend died, her relatives
inherited half of the home. They may not know it, but your ex-girlfriend’s
interest passes to her family members.
You are going to have to find her relatives to clear the title. But keep in
mind, her relatives own half of your home. The only way for you to own 100 percent
of the property is for your former girlfriend’s family members to quitclaim
their interest in the home to you.
You will have to tread carefully. If you and your ex bought the home, got 100
percent financing and the property has not gone up in value, your ex’s
family shouldn’t be able to claim that they are entitled to much in the
way of compensation.
However, if the property went up in value prior to her death and you each put
money into the home, they will have a good argument that they are owed money.
You should talk to a real estate attorney in your area to go over your situation
and find out how you should approach your ex’s family. If you do nothing,
it will be years before you will be able to claim the home as yours. And in
the meantime, you won’t be able to refinance the home and you won’t
be able to sell it.
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 www.thinkglink.com