Unmarried when buying? Ways to take Title.

Dave and I work with many first-time home buyers, which we really enjoy.  The enthusiasm is hard to beat (as evidenced in this photo taken at a recent closing)!  An interesting phenomenon in this day and age is that many of our first-time home buyers are not married.  While we do everything in our power to make sure the stresses of buying a home don’t untangle existing relationships, one of the decisions needed is how to take title on their home as an unmarried couple. 

Most couples, especially those who are planning on getting married or are planning for a permanent relationship, may opt to take title as Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship.  The main benefits of this type of title are:

  • Each person holds an equal interest;
  • Estate passes to surviving partner outside of probate;
  • Tax benefits (“stepped up” tax basis);

Another option for unmarried couples is Tenancy in Common.  The main differences:

  • Each person has ownership, but it does not have to be equal (75%/25%, for example);
  • One person may convey their ownership to a 3rd party;
  • Estate passes to heirs, not to the other tenant;

The third way to take title as an unmarried person is Sole and Separate, in which the person shouldering the mortgage maintains title in their name and can make all decisions regarding the property. 

Of course, I only touched the higher points of each of these–if you have any questions, feel free to call Dave or myself and we’ll be glad to provide more clarity.  



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