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.
Real property interests are freely transferrable. No property law says that you must only quitclaim to the other owner. There often a contract or agreement between the multiple owners to give them the first right of refusal, etc. However, even if you have an agreement or contract limiting your choices of who to transfer title to an actual transfer will still be valid even if it is in breach of the contract.
On the other hand I rarely see a full value sale of only a portion of a title. I rarely see a third party willingly buy a 50% interest in property where the other 50% holder opposes the sale. I would check to make sure your older sister want to buy into that headache.
The law promotes the "free alienability" or right to transfer an interest in real estate. A partial interest is an interest no less so you can transfer it to any third party. I am curious that you said one sister said you had to transfer it to her before transfering to another sister. There are costs involved in multiple transfers and other possible consequences. It seems that your co-owner sister may have some idea about the property (or the reason she wants to do a transfer to her and then a transfer to the other sister). I see no tax or other advantage to doing so perhaps you should simply ask the co-owner why she is suggesting this scenario. If the explanation does not make sense, I have attached a link to the San Diego county Assesor/Recorder/County Clerk that has forms and a section for Frequently Asked Questions. If you still do not have the answer you may wish to contact a lawyer to ensure you are preserving your (and or the mutual goals of you and both your sisters).
The general answer is - you can quit claim your interest to any person you want. That being said, there are several issues.
- The value for the interest being quit claimed will normally be at a discount.
- If you have a written agreement with your younger sister, that may limit the transfer and create a breach of contract issue.
- Your Older Sister knowing the issues at hand and may know of a written agreement may be found to have unclean hands.
Without all the facts, it is tough to give a good answer. Why not transfer to your younger sister for full value?
This "answer" is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The law and its application by the courts is constantly evolving and changing. This discussion is not to be taken as a definitive guide, and should not be relied upon to determine all fact situations. Each set of facts must be examined separately with the current case and statutory law analyzed and applied accordingly.