Do I need a real estate lawyer to change the ownership to my name on the property's title?

Asked 11 months ago - San Jose, CA

Coming out of college, my credit was not too good so I asked my cousin to help in purchasing a house for me. I saved enough money and was gifted some money from family for the down payment for the purchase. Since the close of escrow, I have been paying the mortgage every month as well as the property tax every year. The title is under my cousin's name and I want to transfer it over to mine now but she is not willing to do it. What are my options legally as I am too familiar with real estate law in CA. Do I have any legal rights to the property even though the title is not under my name but I have been living in the property and making mortgage payments for the past 5 years. Please advise. Thank you in advance.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Stephen Ross Cohen

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Sue and be prepared to prove where the down payment and monthly payments came from!

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.... more
  2. Evelyn Susan Ginossi

    Contributor Level 9

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with my colleagues. This could get messy for you and your cousin. It would be wise to seek the advice of a local real estate attorney in this matter.

  3. Pardis Patrick Ashouri

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Do you need a lawyer? Yes you do. As mentioned above get all our records together and consult with real estate litigation attorney. Your tracing of the down payment (who paid and from where) all your payments made along with property tax and insurance. Do not engage in self help with your cousin before the consultation with an attorney as you may give away the farm unknowingly saying something you shouldn't. Good luck.

    In addition to AVVO's disclaimer, please note that by this answer no attorney client relationship is intended mor... more
  4. Bradford Charles Brereton

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, hire a real estate or civil litigation lawyer right now. If the property has value, it will be well worth the investment in sound legal advice and assistance.

    In all cases it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney. Nothing stated herein is intended as legal advice... more
  5. Robert Miller

    Contributor Level 17

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The lessons here are too obvious. Any court action would probably be met with an "unclean hands" defense, meaning both parties conspired to defraud the lender, leaving the parties where they found themselves. Still, you could try with some sort of implied or express or constructive trust theory. If you now have the financial ability, arranging a "purchase" from your cousin and taking out a new loan would solve a lot of legal problems here, and maybe the better answer is to offer your cousin some money to go along with the program. You should consult local real estate counsel.
    **************************************************************************************
    Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.

  6. Charles Michael Standard

    Contributor Level 9

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You will need to engage an attorney to investigate the following: 1) all sums paid by yourself, 2) all sums paid by your cousin, 3) the fair rental value of the property, and, 4) any evidence (e-mails, correspondence) supporting your contention that your cousin agreed to take title in her name, then deed the property back to you. If that fails however, you should still be able to recover the difference between what you have paid for the property and its fair rental value.

    cms1law@sbcglobal.net
    408 796-9616

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

25,159 answers this week

2,914 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

25,159 answers this week

2,914 attorneys answering