Underwood-Blog-Images-2-1-300x300A realtor should take the necessary legal steps to ensure that all real estate owners do so. When most people buy or sell property, they hire a real estate agent to assist with the process. While the concept of these agreements seems simple enough, these agreements can get complicated when the property in question is owned by more than one person. The Underwood Law Firm is familiar with these disputes and is in the ideal position to assist your dealings with real estate brokers. 

What is Needed for a Real Estate Listing Agreement to be Valid? 

California law provides that an agreement authorizing an agent, broker, or any other person to purchase or sell real estate is “invalid, unless [the agreement], or some note or memorandum thereof, are in writing and subscribed by the party to be charged or the party’s agent.” (Civ. Code § 1624(a)(4).) 

Underwood-Blog-Images-4-300x300When co-owners of property decide they want to go their separate ways but cannot come to an agreement on a buyout or reimbursements, they can institute a partition action and have the court system solve the problem.

While partition actions usually involve homes or commercial properties, they can also involve condominiums. Condos bring with them some additional complexities because condo owners generally own an interest in their individual units and the common areas of the condominium complex.

This dual ownership can pose problems because there are restrictions in place about what can and can’t be partitioned when condominiums are involved. Thankfully, the Underwood Law Firm is more than familiar with partitions of all types of property and is here to assist property owners throughout the process.

Underwood-Blog-Images-2-300x300Yes. Co-owners of property are entitled to certain rights, namely, the right to possess and use the property as they see fit. But sometimes, things do not work out with the other owners. 

Heirs to an estate can bicker, business relationships can fall through, and family dynamics can fall apart. This may result in a rightful owner of the property being ousted by the other(s). In these situations, finding the right real estate lawyer to assist in the process of recovering possession is crucial. The Underwood Law Firm, P.C. is familiar with these sensitive matters and has the legal acumen to help you recover possession of your property. 

Do cotenants each have a right to occupy their property?

Underwood-Blog-Images-3-300x300Joint tenancy is a special type of co-ownership recognized in California. It is commonly associated with married couples, ensuring that when one of them dies, their entire interest in the property passes to the other spouse. This is called the right of survivorship, and it is the defining trait of a joint tenancy.

The right of survivorship, however, can be an uncomfortable concept for co-owners, particularly when those owners are not related and are merely business partners. For that reason, co-owners can attempt to sever the joint tenancy to extinguish the right of survivorship. 

The Underwood Law Firm, P.C. is familiar with all types of cotenancies, including joint tenancies, and the various means of severing them under the law. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-300x300A partition action is a court-ordered process where a property owner forces a sale of jointly owned real estate. Essentially, a partition action exists to allow people who own real estate together to take their share of the equity and go their separate ways. But, as simple as this seems, partition actions can often become complex lawsuits. Disputes commonly arise as to what type of partition may be sought and the process for determining ownership interests. 

For example, “Julie” bought a house with her boyfriend, “Shawn,” thinking that they would get married one day. Later, after they had bought the house, Julie realized that her boyfriend was not the right person for her. Because Julie wanted to move on in her life, she also wanted to sell the house she bought with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, however, was mad at Julie for breaking up with him and so refused to agree to sell the house. Because they were not married, Julie could not go to a divorce lawyer, and because they both did not agree to sell, a realtor could not help Julie. Julie felt trapped. Julie then, however, found a partition lawyer and was able to get the house sold so she could move on with her life. A partition lawyer got the job done. 

Partition actions are common in four different instances of joint ownership of real estate (1) boyfriend/ girlfriend; (2) brother/sister inherited property; (3) parent/child; and (4) joint investors in real estate. The Underwood Law Firm, P.C. has clients in all of these categories.

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-1-300x300The deed to a property is the most important document a property owner has. It describes the title and its associated rights while operating as the grant of the property itself. But not all deeds are created equal. 

While grant deeds and quitclaim deeds are the most common tools for transferring title, they carry different warranties and convey fundamentally different property interests. These differences are immensely important, as they determine what rights a property owner actually has. The Underwood Law Firm, P.C. encounters both types of deeds with frequency and has the familiarity and skill to help title holders understand their rights.

What is a deed?

Underwood-Blog-Images-4-300x300Co-owning property as tenants in common is the favored form of joint ownership in California. (Wilson v. S.L. Rey, Inc. (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 234, 242 (S.L. Rey).) Yet, property held in tenancy in common brings with it a unique set of potential issues that are not present in the other forms of joint ownership recognized by the state. (see California Civil Code, § 682.) 

Different ownership interest percentages between co-owners can affect one’s responsibilities for common expenses and levels of disbursement on a sale. A fiduciary relationship between joint owners can disrupt a co-owner’s ability to acquire an encumbrance. Payments for improvements to the property may not be recoverable in an accounting action if deemed “unnecessary.” These are just some of the issues we will attempt to address in this post about the financials of tenancies in common. 

Developing Co-Owned Property

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-3-300x300Yes. While joint ventures are a distinct type of business entity, they share many similarities with general partnerships in California. In fact, “the resemblance between a partnership and joint venture is so close that the rights as between adventurers are governed by practically the same rules that govern partners.” (Milton Kauffman, Inc. v. Superior Court (1949) 94 Cal.App.2d 8, 17.) That being said, there are some differences between the two. This post will address those differences and discuss the common issues that arise among them.  

What is a joint venture?

Under California law, a joint venture “exists where there is an agreement between the parties under which they have a community of interest, that is, a joint interest, in a common business undertaking…” (County of Riverside v. Loma Linda Univ. (1981) 118 Cal.App.3d 300, 313.) In essence, “a joint venture is an undertaking by two or more persons to carry out a single business enterprise for profit.” (Unruh-Haxton v. Regents of University of California (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 343, 370.)

Underwood-Blog-Images-2-1-300x300While litigation guarantees are recommended in a lot of contested real estate issues in court, it is not required in a partition action. Read on to find out more about the nuances of litigation guarantees and their relationship with partition actions. 

What is a partition action? 

A partition action or a partition lawsuit is when one co-owner, or when one person with an interest in the property wants to sell the property, but the other co-owners or others with an interest in the property do not want to sell their ownership rights. 

Underwood-Blog-Images-1-2-300x300Yes. In California, you have a right to recover attorney’s fees by statute. But that doesn’t mean that you can recover 100% of your fees, even in uncontested partitions. Courts will employ numerous equitable considerations in awarding costs, and the complexities of prolonged litigation may render some expenditures on your attorney unrecoverable. The focus of this blog post will therefore be those common issues that arise when attempting to recoup your costs. 

The Authority for Awarding Attorney’s Fees in Partition Actions 

Code of Civil Procedure, section 874.010 states that “[t]he costs of partition include: (a) [r]easonable attorney’s fees incurred or paid by a party for the common benefit.” 

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