Does a third owner deserve their down payment back when the house is sold?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does a third owner deserve their down payment back when the house is sold?

My mother, husband and I bought a house and my mother chose to put $21,000 down. We’re selling the house now. My mother believes that she deserves her entire down payment back out of the sale proceeds, plus half of the rest. How does this work? Does she have legal standing?

Asked on February 13, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In the absence of some agreement to the contrary, her right is to one-third of the proceeds of the house (after paying any mortgage or costs of sale). It certainly would have been legal, and likely very reasonable and fair, for her to have gotten her down payment back and then a third of the balance, but for that to have happened, it should have been in a written agreement among the three of you. Without an agreement to this effect, she simply has her right as one-third owner to one-third the profit.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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