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What to do if owners cannot agree to sell

People disagree all the time, whether it’s the type of soda to drink or the type of house they should buy. Everyone wants or expects something slightly different. The same is true with two owners of property – they may agree or disagree on what should be done.For example, a mother is drafting her will and decides to leave her farm to her two sons, John and Jason. When the mother passes, both Jason and John are equal owners of the family farm. Jason wants to sell the farm and split the profits while John wants to move into the farm.

What should Jason and John do?

The sons may have to consider a partition action. Essentially, a partition action is when more than one person owns a piece of property and need to separate the jointly-owned land. One owner will have to file a partition lawsuit with the local court, and the law ultimately decides how the property is divided. There are two types of partition actions the court implements:

  1. Partition by division – the house or part of the property will be divided among the owning parties. In the example, both Jason and John will own a piece of the farm’s land under their name and establish boundaries for the property.
  2. Partition by sale – the property is sold to a third party, and both owners would receive an equal portion of the profits. It is the most common when it is a residential home.

If one or more of the owners do not agree to the resolution, they may object and ask the court to direct its sale and fix a value for the land. If it happens, one or more owners may buy out the other owner’s interests on terms set by the court.

Let’s return to the example. The court may agree with Jason and ask the brothers to sale the farm and split the purchase. However, John can ask the court to set a fair value for the property and buy out Jason’s ownership in the land. Then, John becomes the sole owner of the property.

Unfortunately, the partition process is not that simple. The court proceedings may take years depending on the complexity of ownership and the compromises available to the disagreeing parties. If you are dealing with a similar situation, you will want to consult with a real estate expert about how you want to approach a partition action.

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