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One of the most important choices you will make as a property buyer is how to hold real estate title to your property. Holding title to a property refers to how you own the property and the rights that go along with it. Along with choosing how to hold title, buyers have the opportunity to choose a title agency to manage the title work. Many title agencies offer notary and escrow services as well and some buyers like having all of these services under one roof. 

There are four basic types of home ownership, or ways to hold title, in the United States. The primary impact these choices have on the property owner has to do with how the property is passed on after death.

Fee Simple is the most common and, as the name implies, simplest way to hold title to a title property. This type of ownership provides full rights of possession at present and in the future to the person named on the deed. This ownership lasts until the property is sold.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship is commonly used by those who purchase a home together. With this type of real estate title, each owner has an equal share of the property. The Right of Survivorship portion of this type of title means that when one of the owners dies, the surviving owner automatically receives the deceased’s portion of the property. The property is not disposed of in a will and does not pass to heirs of the deceased.

Tenancy in Common is similar to Joint Tenancy but without the Right of Survivorship. Each owner has a specified interest in the property. They may have equal or unequal shares. While their interests may be unequal, they have 100% use of the property, no matter what their shares actually are. Since they both have 100% use of the property, it cannot be sold without the others’ permission, but an owner may transfer his or her interest in the property without the permission of the co-owners. The key component of this type of ownership is that each owner can specify whom the property is to go to upon their death in their will. It does not automatically pass to the co-owner.

Tenancy in the Entirety is restricted to married couples. It is also called the Community Property. Similar to joint tenancy, each partner owns 100% of the property and needs the consent of their spouse in order to transfer ownership of the property.

The title agency plays an important role in your real estate transaction. From conducting a title search to holding escrow funds to providing notary services, your title agency is intimately involved with your property transaction. 

No matter how you ultimately decide to hold your real estate title, you will need to have a notary public oversee the signing of the transaction documents. A notary is a public official licensed by the state to perform acts in legal affairs, primary of which is serving as witness to signatures on documents such as real estate forms, mortgages, deeds, and titles.

The deed will need to be filed appropriately with your county recorder or registrar of deeds. In some states, the signing of the deed must also be witnessed.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: Understanding the First Page of Your Closing Disclosure

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