Is everyone named on the deed to a property required to sign and approve the sale of that property?

Asked by Ron Dotson, Deadwood, OR Sat Feb 18, 2012

I have a late aunt who signed over the deeds to her properties (three houses) to myself and three other relatives before she died. Three of us want to sell the property, but one does not. Can we force the sale or is unanimity required?

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Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Feb 18, 2012
Everyone on title needs to sign, unless there was some agreement that a majority vote to sell was binding on everyone. That's why when someone who owns property dies intestate there can be serious issues. And this prevents situations like husbands/wives selling unilaterally without their spouse's approval.
3 votes
John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Sat Feb 18, 2012
YES, YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN force the sale without the 4th signature - it happens all the time.
All you need to do is hire an attorney and work the system. I see this done all the time with estate properties that are owned by several beneficiaries. If there is a compelling reason, which an attorney should be able to tell if you have one or not, then it is possible to get a judge to force the sale.
As a broker who specializes in estate properties, here are the most common reasons I see a court force a sale without all the beneficiary's consent:
- Inherited property is a rental that loses money month-to-month and annually. Judge rules that the 4th person (to use your example) is causing the other owners to suffer an ongoing financial loss by continuing to hold the property, therefore the 4th person must either make up the loss to the other owners or accept the sale, or the judge may force it.
- 3 of the beneficieries want their equity of the property and the 4th person refuses to buy them out or agree to an outside sale. As with previous example, if property is either losing money or failing to make money, judge may force a sale.
Again, these are my observations as a broker who handles deals like this on a frequent basis, not a legal opinion. Only an attorney can tell you if you have a case for forcing a sale. I recommend you talk to one.
1 vote
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Feb 18, 2012
You can't force the sale.

You transfer interest in real property by written deed. Your aunt signed a deed that read, essentially, "The Grantor, Your Aunt, for and in consideration of love and affection, conveys to Ron, Denise, DeNephew, and DeSon the following described real estate . . . "

So now, you and the three D's own whatever interest Auntie had in the property.

But. you & Denise & Denephew want to sell, but DeSon doesn't want to. That means, no sale. Nobody wants to buy a property that DeSon has a 1/4rd share in. Until DeSon signs a deed that says, "The Grantor, DeSon, for and in consideration of love and affection, conveys and quitclaims to Ron, Denise, and DeNephew, all interest in the following described real estate . . . ", you can't sell the thing.

All the best,
1 vote
Ron Dotson, Home Buyer, Deadwood, OR
Sat Feb 18, 2012
Wow, I am very impressed with the quality of the answers which seem to get more informative as time goes by. I could delete the question, but unless there is some reason not to, I will leave it here for others to read. Thanks again to you all. You have been very helpful.
0 votes
Alain Picard, Agent, Puyallup, WA
Sat Feb 18, 2012
All parties on the deed must sign in order for a sale to occur.
0 votes
Ron Dotson, Home Buyer, Deadwood, OR
Sat Feb 18, 2012
Thank you all for your excellent answers. I do not know what sort of ownership the deeds specify but I assume it is joint tenancy. To answer Tim's question: Yes, my aunt removed her own name from the deeds. Apparently she has been able to continue paying the property taxes all these years without those of us she listed on the deeds knowing anything about it. Perhaps more information will come to light as things progress. Thank you.
0 votes
Tim Moore, Agent, Kitty Hawk, NC
Sat Feb 18, 2012
I wonder what the term "Signed Over" means. If she removed her name and added others and then had the new deed recorded, then that was the right way and all need to sign to sell.
0 votes
Phil Rotondo, Agent, Melbourne, FL
Sat Feb 18, 2012
There's no blanket rule to cover every situation; so you should consult an attorney.
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