Different Ways to Hold Title in Real Estate

Depending on your situation, and whether you will be buying property alone or with others, you want to consider your options as to how you will hold title in real estate.


There are several different ways to hold title to your property and each has advantages. When considering which option is best for you, think about how the rights will be dispersed and what happens when it comes time to sell.

Joint Tenancy

In many cases, married couples hold title as joint tenants. Joint tenancy has rights of survivorship, meaning that if one of the joint tenants dies, the remaining rights automatically go to the surviving person(s). And a will is not required to transfer this remaining title to the surviving person(s). Each person has full rights of ownership and can sell their share without the consent of the other, which would then create tenants in common.

Tenants in Common

Tenants in Common allows for multiple people to hold title in unequal shares, with each having the right to sell their share, or will their share as they want. So four buyers could own a property with one buyer owning 60%, one owning 20% and two owning 10%. And each would be able to sell or will their own shares as they want.

Sole Ownership

When buying property alone as an unmarried person, many people take title as a sole owner. This is called title in severalty.

Living Trust

A Living Trust is like having another “entity” own and control your assets, including your home. But that “entity” belongs to you, or others designated as trustees, who “own” the entity. While the creator of the Living Trust lives, the Trust is revocable (can be changed) during his or her life. Upon the death of the creator of the Living Trust, it becomes irrevocable (cannot be changed), and probate costs and delays are avoided because the assets in the Trust automatically pass according to the dictates of the Trust. Privacy is a major attraction in setting up a Living Trust. A trust document does not become public upon the death of the trust-holder like a Will does. -From Provident Home Loans

Community Property (or co-ownership)

There are nine states that allow married people to purchase property, either together or individually, as community property. This basically means that each person owns 50% and each needs to write in their will how their share is to be divided when they die. It is also allowed to take title in these states as community property with rights of survivorship. The nine states that allow community property are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
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