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(In CA) Trying to buy out "joint tenant" for predetermind price, can she see appraisal that I paid for and request more from me?

Lodi, CA |

My girlfriend and I have a house together, but we are splitting up. She offered to sell her half to me for a piece of the equity, based on a Realtor's estimated sale price. I agreed and am going to reFinance the home without her, but I neede an appraisel. Ipaid for it out of my pocket. Does she get a copy and can she raise her price even though she has already verbally agreed on the asking price with me and the mortgage officer?

Attorney Answers 3


No, she does not get to have a copy of the appraisal you paid for.
Yes, she can change the price she verbally agreed upon. (Some oral contracts are binding, but under the Statute of Frauds, contracts for the sale of real estate are not binding unless in writing.)

As such, she is likely well within her rights to say she ain't selling unless she sees the appraisal, in which case, you are headed for a dispute that would be resolved in the manner Mr. Chen outlines.

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First, because you and not married to your girlfriend then this is not a divorce or separation matter. California does not have a common law marriage provision. So, any agreement between you and your girlfried on division of the house would be a contract/property law matter. In all dealings with another party, you have to deal in good faith and fairness. She can ask whatever she wants on the price. The mortgage officer can't make any legal decisions on what is fair or isn't fair, only on what a person would qualify for and if the person can get financed. It appears this is headed for a confrontation. I suggest that you seek the help of an attorney.

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This is a real estate issue, Yes, and yes.

If you ultimately cannot come to an amicable agreement, the legal remedy is a lawsuit for partition and sale. A lawsuit for "partition and sale" is a court procedure by which a judge will order the property sold and the proceeds distributed amongst the co-owners. Upon granting judgment partitioning by sale of each property, the court will order that the proceeds of the sale pay the encumbrances thereon, and the net proceeds thereof then be divided between the parties in an equitable amount to be determined by the court, in addition to allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to principles of equity, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 872.140. In such a partition action, each party will need to present evidence of why the court ought to distribute the proceeds differently than the ownership percentages.

Note that a "partition action" does not necessarily mean the property needs to be sold to a third party. One of the co-owners could end up buying out the co-owner(s) and become the sole owner, or alternatively, the court could reallocate the ownership percentages of each co-owner.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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