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Types of Home Ownership

Types of home ownership: House keys with signed settlement document and pen

When you are looking to buy a home, you are faced with a number of important choices: from location to good schools to square footage. One of the most important questions you'll need to answer right away is what type of home ownership you want to have. For instance, do you want to have sole ownership or do you want to own the property with another person jointly? Do you want an undivided interest in the entire portion of the real property?

This article will explore the different forms of homeownership, including fee simple, joint tenancies, and more.

Fee Simple Home Ownership

The most common form of ownership is the fee simple absolute. The fee simple type of ownership has the following features:

  • The holder of a title in fee simple has full possessory rights now and in the future for an infinite duration
  • There are no limitations on its inheritability
  • The holder of the estate can sell the entire estate or any part of it and dispose of it by will at the time of death

When a condominium or townhouse is purchased, the owner typically purchases the residential unit in fee simple and obtains the right to use the community property. Each unit has its own tax bill, deed, mortgage, and ownership rights but shares in the maintenance of the common areas. Most states have a "Condominium Deed," which will reference the separate maintenance agreement

Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship

In this type of property ownership, each owner holds an undivided share of the estate. There is a right of survivorship, which means on the death of one joint owner, the surviving owner or owners hold an undivided right to the entire estate. This ownership is not subject to the rights of the deceased co-owner's heirs.

Tenancy in Common Ownership

In a title held as a tenancy in common, each owner has an undivided interest in the entire property. Each tenant has the right to possession of the whole property. There is no right of survivorship. Each tenant has a distinct proportionate ownership interest, which passes by succession. If a deed does not state "with right of survivorship," it is presumed the parties are tenants in common.

Tenancy in the Entirety

This is a marital estate, which can only be created between married couples. It is similar to a joint tenancy except that the right of survivorship cannot be destroyed since severance by a surviving spouse is not possible.

In many states, there is a presumption that a tenancy by the entirety is created in any transfer to a husband and wife. This type of title is considered somewhat archaic and the majority of states have abolished this type of tenancy, favoring instead that the couple takes title to the property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.

Types of Home Ownership: Related Resources

If you want to continue your research, you can. Click on the links below to learn more:

Need Help Deciding Which Type of Home Ownership Is Best for You? Talk to a Lawyer

Buying a home is a big undertaking. Before you sign on the dotted line (dozens and dozens of times), make sure your legal interests are protected by speaking with a real estate attorney who can explain the different types of homeownership and recommend the best one for your particular situation.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you through the home buying process.

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