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Selling Half a Home

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

REM #LAW 667

By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Summary: Selling half a home? That's what this reader would like to do. He shares title in the property with his brother and wants to know if he can his half of the house to anyone he wants.

Q: My brother and I inherited equal shares in my late father's home. My brother is living in the home and I want to sell my half. I gave him first choice to buy me out, but so far he has not followed through.
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Can I sell my half of the house to anyone? I am executor of the will and the house is in both of our names.

A: If the home is now in both of your names, you can sell your half of the home to anybody. But it is unlikely that anybody would want to buy your share of the home with your brother living in it. If you did sell it to someone, that person's most likely intent would be to buy your share, sue your brother to force the sale of the home or force your brother to buy the other half of the home from this new stranger.

If you and your brother can't work the situation out, you would have to take the same course of action. You hire an attorney to force a sale of the home. Either owner of the home can bid to purchase the home from the other or the some can be sold to the highest bidder with the proceeds from the sale being split between the owners of the home.

If your brother is employed and has financial means or if your father's estate has other property to distribute, you should try to come up with some sort of agreement that would make you happy and keep your brother happy. Suing your brother should be your last resort, because it could severely tarnish your relationship.

If you are being assisted in the settling of your late father's estate by an attorney, discuss these issues with her. She may have some ideas as to what might be done. If you don't have an estate attorney, you may want to talk to one. It would help if the estate attorney you deal with has dealt with an issue similar to yours.

If the estate attorney does not have first hand knowledge of your type of situation, you're probably best off finding one who has that kind of experience. Otherwise, you could wind up footing the bill for two attorneys.

Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glinkís 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 Ilyceís website




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