Code of Civil Procedure 873.520 CCP – Public Auction or Private Sale; Determination; Report of Referee (Partition by Sale)


California Code of Civil Procedure 873.520 is the California partition statute that allows the court to determine whether the property should be sold either at a public auction or through a private sale. The statute provides that:

The property shall be sold at public auction or private sale as the court determines will be more beneficial to the parties. For the purpose of making this determination, the court may refer the matter to the referee and take into account the referee’s report.[1]California Code of Civil Procedure 873.520

“Section 873.520… makes clear that there is no preference for either public or private sale. The reference to a referee for determination whether public or private sale would be more beneficial may be combined with a reference to determine whether partition by sale is more equitable than partition by division. See Section 872.820 and Comment thereto.”[2]1976 Law Revision Comment to California Code of Civil Procedure 873.520

As a practical matter, most properties sold by courts in a partition action through a public auction. However, this does not mean the property is sold at a discounted, fire sale price. To the contrary, the property is generally marketed in the normal manner, i.e., through a Realtor listing the property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), holding an open house, and allowing a reasonable period of time for purchase offers to come in. This means that the sales price will likely be very similar to a normal sale, the only difference being a short delay after a buyer is accepted for court approval of a buyer.

One unpublished decision sheds light on the meaning of the terms in this section, and the discretion of the court to allow a private sale as follows:

Under Code of Civil Procedure section 873.520 the property to be partitioned is sold at public auction or private sale based on the court’s determination of what will be more beneficial for the parties. Here, the trial court concluded that an initial private sale would best serve John’s and William’s interests. William contends a private sale is unfair because it does not test the market. However, evidence was presented that the parcels at issue would most likely be undesirable to third parties and therefore difficult to sell. Certain parcels have problems with access and easements. Also, in order to keep cattle off of a purchased parcel, a third party would have to construct fences along the boundaries at a cost of approximately $10,000. Moreover, John expressed a preference of keeping the property in the family. Under these circumstances, the trial court did not exceed the bounds of reason in ordering an initial private sale.[3]Jamison v. Jamison (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 9, 2004) No. F043236, 2004 WL 2827711, at *2

This decision reflects the ability to use a partition to transfer title to a closely related party without placing the property on the market, thereby ending the co-ownership relationship.

Contact an Experienced Partition Attorney in California

If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. Our experienced partition lawyers have years of experience ending co-ownership disputes and can help you unlock the equity in your property. For a free, 15 minute consultation with an experienced partition attorney at Talkov Law, call (844) 482-5568 or fill out a contact form online.

Partition Blog Posts


1 California Code of Civil Procedure 873.520
2 1976 Law Revision Comment to California Code of Civil Procedure 873.520
3 Jamison v. Jamison (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 9, 2004) No. F043236, 2004 WL 2827711, at *2
About Talkov Law

The attorneys at Talkov Law practice real estate law, family law, business law, bankruptcy law, and trust & probate law. Our experienced lawyers specialize in assisting all parties involved in these civil disputes by providing the best legal representation.

Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation.

    Super Lawyers
    US News and World Report Scott Talkov
    Scott Talkov Three Best Rated 2021
    Scott Talkov Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Recent Blog Posts