Can Someone Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed?

Can Someone Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed

Can someone sell a house if your name is on the deed?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • if someone can sell a house if your name is on the deed
  • what your rights are if your name is on the property deed
  • what if your name is on the deed, but not the mortgage
  • can someone remove your name from the deed without you knowing
  • types of deeds and what they are
  • how someone can sell a house if your name is on the deed

Let’s dig in.

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Can Someone Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed?

Yes, someone can sell a house if your name is on the deed, but it depends on the type of ownership.

  • Sole Ownership: Only you can sell the house.
  • Joint Tenants: All owners must agree to sell.
  • Tenants In Common: Any co-owner can sell their share of the property without the other owners’ consent.
  • Deed Of Trust: If the property is collateral for a loan, the trustee can sell the house if the borrower defaults on the loan.
  • Power Of Attorney: Someone can sell the house on your behalf if they hold power of attorney, but only if the power of attorney document allows property transactions.

We cover this more in depth further below. 

What Are My Rights If My Name Is Not On A Deed?

If your name is not on the deed, you typically do not have any ownership rights to the property

A deed is a legal document that establishes who owns a property

If your name is not listed on it, you’re not recognized as an owner.

You won’t have the right to sell the property or make decisions regarding its use. 

Furthermore, if the property is sold, you generally wouldn’t have any claim to the proceeds from the sale.

But, there can be exceptions. 

For example, let’s say you are married and live in a community property state.

You may have some rights even if your name is not on the deed. 

In these states, property acquired during the marriage is often considered jointly owned, regardless of whose name is on the deed.

Another exception could be if you have a written or verbal agreement with the person whose name is on the deed. 

This could grant you certain rights, although enforcing such an agreement can be difficult and may require legal action.

Read More: Am I Entitled To My Husband’s Property If He Dies And My Name Isn’t On The Deed?

What Are My Rights If My Name Is On A Deed But Not The Mortgage?

When your name is on a deed but not the mortgage, you’re still an owner of the property

You have the right to live there, rent it out, or sell it, subject to agreements with any other owners.

You don’t have legal responsibility for the mortgage debt. 

That responsibility belongs to the people who signed the mortgage papers

If mortgage payments stop, the lender can’t pursue you directly for the money.

However, there is a downside. 

If mortgage payments stop, the lender can foreclose

They can sell the property to recoup the unpaid debt. 

So, you can lose your property, even though you’re not responsible for the mortgage debt.

If you choose to sell the property, you may not get all the sale proceeds

The mortgage must be paid off before you see any profit. 

If the mortgage balance is large, this could considerably lower your financial gain from selling.

Read More: What Are My Rights If My Name Is On A Deed?

Can You Remove Someone From A Deed Without Their Knowledge?

Removing a person’s name from a deed without their knowledge or agreement isn’t typically possible. 

Deeds are legal documents, and altering them requires a legal procedure.

Usually, all named parties on the deed must agree to any changes, including removing a name. 

This agreement typically involves signing a new deed that shows the updated ownership details. 

This new deed then needs to be officially recorded at a government office, often the county recorder’s office.

If the parties disagree about changes to the deed, a court order might be needed. 

For instance, during a divorce or a partition lawsuit, a court could mandate changes to the deed.

Remember, trying to remove a person’s name from a deed without their agreement could be viewed as fraud. 

This can result in severe legal penalties.

Read More: Do You Need A Lawyer To Remove A Name From A Deed?

What Is A Deed?

A deed transfers property ownership from the seller (grantor) to the buyer (grantee). 

It includes important information about:

  • the property that’s getting sold
  • those involved in the deal 

A deed becomes official when both parties sign and the grantee receives it.

Deeds are important because they formally transfer ownership rights

They’re the main proof of who owns a property. 

In many places, recording the deed at a local government office is a legal requirement. 

This ensures that it’s part of the public record.

A deed usually contains the following components:

  • Identification Of Parties: This is where you find the legal names of the seller and buyer.
  • Legal Description Of The Property: This section describes the property’s location and boundaries. Often, it uses lot numbers, block numbers, and subdivision names.
  • Consideration: This is the amount of money the buyer pays for the property.
  • Granting Clause: This statement shows the seller’s intention to transfer the property.
  • Signatures: The seller must sign the deed.
  • Notarization: Usually, a notary public confirms the identities of the signers. This ensures the deed was signed voluntarily.

Types Of Deeds

There are various kinds of deeds.

And each provides different levels of protection for the buyer:

  • General Warranty Deed: Offers the most protection to the buyer. The seller guarantees they own the property outright. This includes any title issues from before they owned it.
  • Special Warranty Deed: Similar to a general warranty deed, but with a limited scope. The seller only guarantees against issues from the time they owned the property.
  • Quitclaim Deed: Provides the least protection. It transfers any ownership interest the seller may have. A quitclaim deed offers no guarantees about the title’s clarity.
  • Deed of Trust: In some states, this deed type transfers property to a trustee as loan security. The trustee keeps the property until the borrower repays the loan. If the borrower fails to pay, the trustee can sell the property to cover the debt.

Legalities Of Selling A Property If Your Name Is On The Deed

Let’s look at the legal aspects of someone selling a house if your name is on the deed

Property Ownership

Property ownership is the legal right to possess and use property. 

The owner can use the property as they wish, within law boundaries. 

The property could be owned by one person or shared.

There are three main types of shared property ownership:

  • Joint Tenancy: Here, all owners share the property equally. Each person can use the whole property. If an owner dies, their share transfers to the other owners. This is known as the right of survivorship.
  • Tenancy in Common: Each owner has a set share of the property. Shares don’t need to be equal. If an owner dies, their share goes to a chosen beneficiary. There’s no right of survivorship.
  • Tenancy by the Entirety: This ownership type is for married couples or, in some states, registered domestic partners. It’s like joint tenancy but offers more protection from creditors.

Rights Of Property Owners

Owners have basic rights known as the “bundle of rights”. These include:

  • Right of Possession: The owner legally owns the property, as the title deed shows.
  • Right of Control: The owner can legally control the property’s use.
  • Right of Exclusion: The owner can keep others off the property.
  • Right of Enjoyment: The owner can legally use the property as they like.
  • Right of Disposition: The owner can sell, rent, or transfer the property.

Yet, these rights have restrictions via:

  • local zoning laws
  • HOA rules
  • easements
  • lien rights can limit them

A lien, for example, could stop an owner from selling until a debt is paid. 

Co-ownership might also limit an owner’s right to sell without the other owners’ approval.

Knowing these rights and limits is key when thinking of selling a property. 

They significantly influence how and when a sale can happen.

Is It Possible To Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed?

Let’s look at the different scenarios in which you can or can’t sell a house if your name is on the deed. 

These include:

  • owning the property alone
  • owning the property with other people
  • owning the house in a deed of trust
  • having a power of attorney

Owning Alone

If you own a property alone, you alone can sell it

This means your name is the only one on the deed. 

Nobody else can sell your property

It’s your right to sell, lease, or mortgage the property.

Still, there are rules to follow when selling. 

You must provide a clear title. 

This means showing you own the property free of liens. 

You must tell potential buyers about any problems with the property. 

Each state has its own rules about selling houses. 

You might have to pay taxes on the sale or fill out certain documents. 

If you don’t follow these rules, there might be penalties. 

The sale could also be canceled.

Shared Ownership

Shared ownership, or co-ownership, refers to multiple individuals owning a property. 

There are two main types of shared ownership: 

With joint tenancy, every owner has an equal stake in the property

There’s typically a right of survivorship

This means if an owner dies, their portion goes to the remaining owners

In this case, an owner can sell their stake. 

But, they can’t sell the whole property without the other owners agreeing.

Tenancy in common is different. 

Each owner has a separate share in the property

These shares can be equal or different

An owner can sell their share without needing the other owners’ permission

Unlike joint tenancy, there’s no right of survivorship

If an owner dies, their share goes to their heirs or as per their will, not to the other owners.

In both situations, an owner can sell their own share. 

They can’t sell the entire property unless all owners agree. 

If the owners can’t agree on a sale, they may end up in court. 

The court can order a partition lawsuit. 

This forces the sale of the property. 

Then, the money from the sale is divided between the owners.

Selling A House Under A Deed Of Trust

A Deed of Trust involves three parties: 

  • the trustor (borrower)
  • the beneficiary (lender)
  • the trustee

Buying a property with a Deed of Trust means that the trustee holds the legal title to the property. 

As the borrower, you have the equitable title

This means you can use and live in the property.

Selling a house under a Deed of Trust is possible.

But there are some unique factors to keep in mind.

You, as the borrower, can sell the property even if the loan is not fully paid

But, the property is technically in the lender’s control via the trustee until the loan is paid in full

To transfer a clear title to a buyer, you typically need to pay off the remaining loan balance, often with the sale’s proceeds.

Once the loan is paid, the trustee frees the property from the Deed of Trust

This gives you, as the seller, the full legal title back

Then, you can transfer a clear title to the buyer.

If the sale price is lower than the loan balance, a short sale might be needed. 

This is where the lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed on the property.

In short, a Deed of Trust adds some steps to the selling process, but it doesn’t stop you from selling. 

Read More: Who Owns The Property In An Irrevocable Trust

Selling With Power Of Attorney

A Power of Attorney, or POA, is a legal document. 

It allows one person, the agent, to act for another person, the principal. 

The level of authority the agent has can change a lot, based on what the POA says.

If the POA gives the agent the right to sell the principal’s house, then the agent can do so. 

This can be helpful if the principal can’t manage their own affairs due to health issues or being away.

To let an agent sell a property, the POA needs to give them the power to handle real estate transactions. 

This means the power of attorney can:

  • put the property up for sale
  • negotiate deals
  • accept offers
  • sign sales contracts
  • take care of closing procedures 

The POA can also set limits or rules about the agent’s power.

It’s crucial to remember that the agent must always act in the principal’s best interest. 

This responsibility is known as a fiduciary duty.

It means the agent must make choices that help the principal, like getting a fair price for the property.

But without a POA, they can’t sell a property they don’t legally own.

FAQs About Can Someone Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed

Here are other questions our clients ask us related to someone selling a house when their name is on the deed.

What Happens If Your Name Is On The Deed But Not The Mortgage?

When your name is on the deed but not the mortgage, you are the legal owner of the property. 

But, you aren’t responsible for the mortgage payments

The debt falls on the person named on the mortgage.

If the person on the mortgage doesn’t make payments, the lender can start foreclosure. 

This happens because the mortgage holder used the property as loan collateral. 

Even if your name isn’t on the mortgage, you could lose the property in foreclosure.

There can be benefits to having your name on the deed but not the mortgage. 

If the property’s value increases, you have a right to a portion of the equity as a legal owner.

When it comes to selling the property, consent is usually needed from both the person on the deed and the person on the mortgage. 

This is because the money from the sale must first go toward paying off the mortgage.

Do Both Owners Have To Sign To Sell A House?

If a property is jointly owned, usually, both owners need to sign to sell the house

This is because each owner has legal rights to the property. 

When selling, both owners have to agree

They must sign the sale documents, including the deed transfer. 

The deed transfer legally shifts ownership from the current owners to the buyer. 

If only one owner signs without the consent of the other, the sale might not be valid

The specific rules can change depending on:

Can One Person Sell A House With Two Names On The Title?

When two names are on a house title, selling the house usually requires both parties’ agreement

This is because each person has ownership rights to a portion of the property. 

So, without the other person’s approval, one individual cannot sell the house

This applies to most situations involving joint ownership, such as:

  • joint tenancy 
  • tenancy in common

If the co-owners disagree on selling, one can force a sale

They do this through a legal procedure called partition

But remember, this process involves the court. 

It can be expensive and take a lot of time.

Sometimes, one person can sell the house without the other’s consent. 

This is possible when they have legal permission to act on behalf of the other

This permission is known as power of attorney. 

However, whether selling the property is allowed depends on the exact terms of the power of attorney.

Determining If Someone Sell A House If Your Name Is On The Deed

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