How much to pay someone to sign off of a deed?

UPDATED: Aug 20, 2011

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How much to pay someone to sign off of a deed?

My uncle bought a house in 20 years ago for $230,000 and his sister paid $11,000 to help with the down payment, so she was put on the deed. She has not paid a penny since and she occupies a bedroom with her stuff even though she never lives in the house. Now the house is worth about $500,000. She wants $100,000 to go back to Hong Kong. Since the house is 2.2 times of the original value, shouldn’t she only be entitled to $24,000. Also, considering that she has occupied the bedroom for 20 years, doesn’t she need to pay some kind of rent or have an amount deducted from the $24,000? How much money should my uncle pay her to have her name eliminated from the deed? If my uncle goes to court, how much court fee does it cost? Is it small claims court? Does he need to hire a lawyer?

Asked on August 20, 2011 California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your aunt is on the deed to this property, she has an ownership interst in it as a matter of law. The issue is whether or not the deed states she owns a specific percentage or not. If the deed states a percentage of ownership by the aunt, then the amount of interest she has is the percentage of the home's current fair market vaule less an approximate 10% reduction for having a fractionalized interest.

If her and your uncle's names are on the deeds with no percentages of ownership designated, your aunt's share would be one half of the home's current fair market value less an approximate 10% for having a fractionalized interest.

If there is a written agreement between your uncle and aunt concerning the allocation of profits or payment to your aunt over the home, such would control over the deed of record.

The above issue is not a small claims court matter. To go to court and fight over a buy out in a partition action would be quite expensive.

Your uncle should retain a real estate attorney to assist in the buy out of the aunt's interests in the property.

Good luck.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I think that given the amount at stake, speaking with an attorney in the area would be a good idea.  Speak with a real estate litigation attorney.  What you have not stated here is if your Aunt was also on the mortgage.  If she was not then there was no financial obligation there that your Uncle paid on her behalf.  However, there were other obligations that were paid on her behalf such as taxes, water, upkeep and maintenance on the house that she was required to pay over the last 20 years.  I would start adding up those obligations paid by your Uncle and bring that information with him to the attorney. If you see where I am going here - giving her a bill for those obligations since she "occupied" the house as well - it could give your uncle a lot of leverage in bargaining her down from the $100K.  Good luck.

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