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When One Party Doesn’t Want to Sell

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. May 10, 2022

Purchasing a home or property can be an exciting endeavor, but also one in which a significant amount of money needs to be invested. Because of this, you may need to partner with another person to share the costs like an investor, family member, or spouse. Many of these contracts work well, but in other cases, there could be disagreements when one party wants to sell and the other doesn’t. One common reason for these real estate disputes is divorce, and with just under 29,000 divorces or annulments in Pennsylvania in 2020, there are plenty of possibilities for misunderstandings or disagreements.

If you need legal assistance with a property dispute and are in the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania area, Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. can help. Call me today to set up a consultation.  

What Happens When One Person Won’t Sell

Most people hold on to real estate for a long time. If it’s jointly owned, the odds that a title dispute will arise are fairly high. When one person wants to sell and the other doesn’t, there are remedies available—but it will depend on your specific situation.

  • Divorce: Often, a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement on the division of assets and this usually revolves around the marital home.

  • Inheritance: When a family member passes away (like a parent), it’s common that they leave their property to be split among their children, creating multiple owners. If the children cannot agree on what to do with the property, a legal dispute could arise.

  • Invested ownership partners: Last, you may own property with someone else as an investment, such as two partners in a business who cannot agree to sell.


One solution to a title dispute is a partition action. When two co-owners can’t agree on what to do with a property (ex. whether to sell, renovate, rebuild, or expand), an impartial third party may be needed to settle the dispute. A partition seeks to split the property in such a way that both owners come away with an equitable share. 

Types of Partitions

There are three main types of partitions: a partition in kind, partition by appraisal, and partition by judgment. In a partition in kind (also called a physical partition), the property is physically divided in half and each party gets an equal share. This is a very straightforward method and is best for large tracts of land, but does not work for all properties such as a house that cannot be easily divided. When that’s the case, a partition by judgment or appraisal may be necessary. With a partition by appraisal, one party agrees to buy out the share of the other based on an appraisal. If neither of these options is agreeable, you may need a judgment where the court will step in and determine how the property will be divided. 

The Partition Process

Any of the joint-owners can petition the court for a partition, and this should be done with the help of a real estate attorney. The court will then notify all other owners or lien-holders so they can contest the action and have their say on the matter. After this, a judge will determine what method of partition should be used that’s in the best interest of all owners.

Dividing the Proceeds

The division of proceeds will depend on the type of partition that was used. This could mean that each owner is allotted a portion of land, that each owner is awarded their share of the proceeds from selling the property, or that one owner is given the title while the other is given a payment for their share. Most court fees are split equally among the owners regardless of who brought forth the petition initially.

Working With Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

You deserved skilled advocacy during a title dispute. At Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. I can help clients throughout the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area including Shaler Township, Ross Township, Fox Chapel, O’Hara Township, Penn Hills, Oakmont Borough, Indiana Township, and Aspinwall. Call Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. today to discuss your options.