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Refusing to move

Refusing to move
ask phyllis a real estate question


Ask Phyllis: a blog series of frequently asked real estate questions previously published in the Crescenta Valley Weekly.

Dear Phyllis,

My sister has been living with my mother for twenty years. My mother passed two years ago, and as the estate’s trustee, I want to sell the home. It’s horse property in Acton on over two acres. For the last two years, my sister has not paid rent. The trust has been paying the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. She and I are the only beneficiaries of the estate. She can’t afford to buy me out and is refusing to move. I have offered her help with moving expenses, but my sister will not even discuss the home’s sale with me.

The home is completely gated with barbed wire on the top of the fence. Thus there is no way to get a sense of anything from the street. The Realtor I spoke to advised me that I must evict my sister if she doesn’t cooperate with showings. Although we don’t have much relationship, I am unwilling to go that far. After the loan is paid, there is only about $300,000 of equity, and half goes to her. I think I will stop paying the mortgage and let the bank foreclose. Are there any other options?


Dear Hank,

Certainly, I understand your reluctance to have your sister evicted. But as the estate’s trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to both beneficiaries. Allowing the home to be foreclosed upon could be considered a breach of that responsibility.

As your sister is refusing to move and you won’t evict her, the only option I can come up with is to sell the home AS IS. Therefore, the buyer will have to evict your sister. I assume that your sister will not cooperate with showings or buyer inspections. So, the buyer will need to purchase the home without access. And likely, this buyer will be an investor who will want a hefty discount.

As the access to the home won’t be possible, I think the Realtor you hire should have drone photography so that the buyer can get at least a sense of the land and horse facilities.

I wish you success in wrapping this up.

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