Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common: A Question of Title

You’ve certainly done your research during this home buying process. First, you searched for an experienced loan officer who guided you through the home loan process. Next, you found an excellent real estate agent after interviewing several and found the perfect match.

The real estate agent met with you and after a conversation about where you wanted to live, your goals and price range, the agent provided you with several options. You also shopped for insurance to protect your new home. There’s a lot to consider. But have you thought about how you want to hold title? What happens to your property in the event of your passing? How you choose to hold title determines this.

Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common

Whoever holds title to a property is an owner and has a legal interest in the property. There are several ways to hold title but the two most common ways in California are to hold title as Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common. The other more common ways are sole ownership, community property and in a living trust.

Sole ownership, lawyers sometimes refer to this as “ownership in severalty” but the term is relatively self-explanatory. The only owner is you. If you’re married your spouse will need to sign a Quitclaim deed removing that individual’s interest in the property. When the sole owner dies, any property, including real estate holdings, are distributed according to a probate court’s decision.

Community property is another option for those who are married. Each spouse owns one-half the property and upon the passing of one of the spouses, the one-half can be transferred to the surviving spouse dictated in a will or even to a third party not married to the individual who died.

A living trust can take title to a home and upon the owner’s death the property is distributed according to the trust’s terms. Assets in a living trust are hidden from public view and are private, shielded from any lawsuits, judgments or claims.

Again, the most common ways to hold title to real estate here in California is by Joint Tenancy and Tenants in Common. Let’s look at both.

Joint Tenants vs. Tenants in Common: Joint Tenancy

In joint tenancy, there can be multiple owners but when one of them dies, the owner’s share who passed is automatically divided equally among the other owners. Typically this is how a married couple takes title in a new home. Joint tenancy is also sometimes known technically as “joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.” If a spouse dies the surviving spouse receives 100% ownership of the property. In joint tenancy there is no need for probate court as the distribution of the share is automatic. All the surviving spouse needs to do is keep a copy of the certificate of death in order to clear the title report. In order to hold title as joint tenants, all owners must take ownership and title simultaneously and each owner shares equally the held property.

Tenants in Common

When multiple parties, two or more at least, take title as tenants in common, each owner holds a specific interest in the property and is not automatically divided equally among all owners. Real estate investors often hold title in this manner as different owners may have a greater interest in the property from one another. One investor may own 30%, another 45% and a third at 25%. Specific ownership is spelled out in the deed. With tenants in common, the owners do not have to take title at the same time as joint tenancy requires. An owner can be added later or an owner can sell the interest in the property to a third party or in a will.

For instance, of these three owners, the one with a 25% legal interest can sell to someone else to acquire that 25%. Or, the owner can specify in the will her nephew will be the heir to her share. Tenancy in common also requires the property be subject to the rulings of probate.

So, how should you take title? That depends upon who is buying the property and when. If you’re a married couple most people take title as joint tenants. With joint tenancy, if one spouse dies, the share of ownership is transferred to the surviving spouse. But joint tenancy doesn’t only apply to those that are married. Four people can take title as joint tenants as long as they acquire the property at the same time and each owns 25% of the estate.

Joint Tenants law

If you’re not sure how to hold title ask your loan officer for more information or speak with your title insurance representative. Note, such advice might be taken as legal advice and there may be some reluctance to tell you how you should hold your assets, including real estate, but there is enough objective information available to help you make this decision on your own.

If you’re acquiring property at the same time and want to divide ownership equally, then joint tenancy is a likely candidate. If not, or there are those who own a greater percentage of the asset, then tenancy in common is your better choice.

Testimonials

“Juliann – Thank you very much for your patience and help with everything. I can say 150% that we could not have gotten through this without you. I have been through this process before a few times BUT never have received this type of care/attention. This process is intense and you managed to humanize this life changing experience for us – rather than being a loan number. If you or Home Point ever need an official recommendation from us, you can count us in.”

“Chad and his team are exactly who you want handling the financing of your home. Whether it be a new purchase or refinance, he and his team are one of the most professional, responsive group of people I’ve worked with. Buying a home can be very stressful and Chad and his team took all of the necessary steps to make the process as painless and as quick as possible. They are extremely knowledgeable, organized and have great follow through. You won’t ever be left wondering what the next steps are. I highly recommend him and will use him in all of our real estate transactions moving forward.”

Chad was very personable. His staff was very suportive.
I had the pleasure of working with Chads team. Everything went as planned. I was very pleased. I still want to take them to dinner. I am completely enjoying my new home”

“Good experience

I recommend chad because he is not pushy or trying to manipulate as others in the same business, the process was smooth with no obstacles, best team. ”

Outstanding experience

I was referred to Chad by my Realtor for a purchase of a new house. The experience with Chad and the team (I mainly worked with Juliann) was nothing short of outstanding. From start to finish there were always quick to respond and when needed, notify me of any new documentation that was required. There were very helpful explaining to me the pros and cons of different financing options as well as some other loan related issues, such as termite clearance outside the purchase contact and septic tank certification process. Overall, very knowledgeable and processional team. Loan preapproval was done in a single day and loan documents were ready for signing in 21 days, which was 9 days ahead of schedule. That never happened to me before.

“Hey Chad, Just wanted to send a quick note to Thank You for all your work and effort to get this escrow closed. It was a pleasure to work with someone as professional as yourself. If I have a client that ever needs a lender you will definitely be someone that I  would recommend.”

“Chad and his team got me funded in less than 30 days, completing a deal that another broker fumbled around with for almost 90 days. Effective, efficient and excellent communication skills. Outstanding professionalism.”

“Chad, it was a pleasure working with you. Your loan was smooth, speedy, and we were kept well informed. I will make sure to prioritize offers where you are the loan officer as I know they run smoothly.”

As a first time home buyer, I wasn’t sure what to really expect, but Chad and his team made the process very clear and easy. Once the process was over, they didn’t just vanish either. They kept in touch and looked for opportunities that may benefit me. A couple years later, they found me a great refinance opportunity that saved me a lot of money! Once again, the process is long and grueling, but Chad and his team made it as painless as could be. Any barrier that I encountered, they found a quick solution to make it happen. Mortgages are a huge commitment and I wouldn’t pick any other team to help me make the right decisions.”

Incredible Turnaround and Stellar Customer Service. Chad and his team helped us get into our first home here in San Diego. When we first started the process we were skeptical it would even be worth applying. But Chad and his team walked us through the whole lending process with integrity and know how that surpassed our expectations. After helping us to pull together our pre-qualification, he and his team stayed at the ready. Before we even walked up to a home we were seriously interested in he had the data we needed over to us and our realtor. After finding the home we wanted to place a bid on, we were able to place a bid with a matter of a few hours. Then, after having our offer accepted, he had our loan package completed and the keys in our hands in under a month — I am pretty sure it was less than. Like I said, incredibly fast and professional turnaround. if you are looking for a motivated lender who can walk you though every detail and have your back every step of the way, Chad and his team at HomePoint Financial is your best decision. Recommend them highly!”

Great Job Chad Baker Team & Homepoint!
I was very impressed with the professionalism and quick response times from Chad Baker & his team during the entire process. I would highly recommend Home Point for mortgage needs. Great Job! ”

“I must say I was extremely impressed with the professionalism and quick response from Chad Baker & his entire team. I screened over 5 lenders before selecting the Baker Team & boy am I happy customer. It’s evident that customer service is a priority for these folks.”

Thank you, Chad. You have been amazingly responsive to all my questions, and you have a great staff assisting you. Thanks so much for all your help!

An ‘A’ Team!
We just closed on our second transaction with the Chad Baker team. They are very well organized and I can attest that they are looking out for their clients’ best needs. A special shout-out for Juliann B. who was our guide through the painful loan process. We found Juliann to be very responsive, kind, patient, and diligent in getting both our refis closed well.”

“We’re loving our new place and we’re very pleased with how smoothly everything went through closing. Thanks for keeping us up to date on the possibility of refinancing at a lower rate; we trust your judgement as far as waiting until the rate is around 5% lower before we refinance. We’re very interested in pursuing that if rates drop to that level. Thanks so much for all your help and personal attention!”

“Chad and his group made the mortgage approval process smooth and understandable. Multiple updates and explanations during the process kept me informed of progress. Chad also provided great advice on other home services, in particular an insurance company that saved me thousands of dollars a year on home and auto insurance.”

Chad Baker and his team are amazing!

My husband and I found Chad through an article he had written. Every aspect of working with Chad and his team was exceptional. From our initial phone call where he explained the many options we had, to advice he gave in dealing with somewhat challenging sellers, and closing our loan ahead of schedule, the loan process with Chad and his team went very smoothly. I especially appreciated the one-on one guidance from Juliann, who really made me feel like I was her only client. I look forward to working with Chad and his team again and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a mortgage.

I was amazed how quickly Chad was able to knocked out our refinance!. I highly recommend Chad he & his team did an incredible job! I had 3 others I was working with, including a Credit Union. Chad was able to offer me a lower rate with no fees! Based on the other 3 top financial bids I had for this refinance. ”

“Chad and The Chad Baker team really helped me from start to finish with my loan process. They were extremely responsive and provided me updates on a daily basis. I had a few personal issues that they helped me work through so I could get the best loan program and best rate. Very knowledgeable about the industry, rates and trends. I HIGHLY recommend Chad and his team. I’m happy to offer a reference upon request. Please ask Chad for my contact information.”

Outstanding experience

I was referred to Chad by my Realtor for a purchase of a new house. The experience with Chad and the team (I mainly worked with Juliann) was nothing short of outstanding. From start to finish there were always quick to respond and when needed, notify me of any new documentation that was required. There were very helpful explaining to me the pros and cons of different financing options as well as some other loan related issues, such as termite clearance outside the purchase contact and septic tank certification process. Overall, very knowledgeable and processional team. Loan preapproval was done in a single day and loan documents were ready for signing in 21 days, which was 9 days ahead of schedule. That never happened to me before.

Excellent customer service – highly recommended!. I was referred to Chad by one of my friend. During our initial meeting, Chad walked me through the lending process and provided multiple ideas to start the home search. He got me pre-approved in couple of days. After looking for months, we finally liked a house but it was over our budget. He came up with an intelligent financing strategy and provided an excellent rate that let us purchase our new house. Chad and his team are patient, professional and always available – literally 7 days a week, 24×7. I can’t remember the last company I worked with that returned calls and emails in such a timely manner! I will happily recommend him to others.”

When looking for a house, we had couple recommendations for a lender. After talking with all the lenders, many were difficult to work with and couldn’t get it done as quickly as we needed. I was referred to Chad Baker’s team and I am glad we did. Not only did they get the things done quickly for us, they were very easily to get ahold of. It wasn’t rare to get a response within 15 minutes whenever an email was sent. I could not express how friendly and outgoing this team is. And on top of that, they came back with the best offer for us amongst all the other brokers. I am glad I worked with these guys. If you are looking for a lender…MAKE SURE TO CALL CHAD BAKER AND TEAM!!! Thanks Chad for all your hard work. Next time we buy another house I am calling you first!

I was amazed how quickly Chad was able to knocked out our refinance!
I highly recommend Chad he & his team did an incredible job! I had 3 others I was working with, including a Credit Union. Chad was able to offer me a lower rate with no fees! Based on the other 3 top financial bids I had for this refinance. ”

“Thank you for all the hard work (even on weekends!) you and your team have devoted to seeing this through in a very efficient manner. It’s been an easy process for me and, you and your team have been a delight to work with.”

A very responsible and experienced professional with his highly effective team

I really enjoyed working with Chad Baker and the rest of the team. This was our first time buying a home in California and we started with unnecessary assumptions based on our previous experience as home-owners in a different state. Chad and his team were available throughout the whole process, explaining the state differences, answering all our phone calls and emails quickly and directly, and providing detailed weekly status reports so that all parties including agents knew exactly where we were in the process. Chad was very experienced and provided customized loan products for us to consider, which definitely facilitated our transaction. I recommend the Chad Baker team! ”

“Chad and his team were fantastic. They were incredibly responsive to us and our needs. Chad laid out several refinance options for us, and was very supportive when we decided on the option we felt was best for our family. Chad and his team worked our deal and got our mortgage funded incredibly fast, with excellent service and even took the time to thank us personally once we funded. I can’t recommend Chad enough!”

“Hi Juliann and Chad, I wanted to take a moment and thank you guys for what would have been impossible for us to do without you. We wouldn’t have our keys in hand if it had not been for your help in navigating the financing, and Juliann’s perseverance in getting the rest of the players in the transaction to deliver. Out of everything, our interaction with your office has been a highlight – and your customer service has been beyond everything we’ve experienced in the real estate industry. Is there a way we can provide any reviews, ratings, testimonials, or other statements that can express to your potential future customers how much you guys do to make the customer’s life easy? Please let us know how we can share our great experience with you to the rest of the public. Whether we refinance this under a VA, or get in a bigger/better house in a few years, we’re not going to go anywhere else for financing. We are customers of yours as long as you are in business. Thanks again for getting us in a house!”

Amazing Service!

Chad and his team were very attentive to all of my needs, they called , emailed and checked in often. No question was left unanswered! Maria was a superstar! taking all my calls no matter the time or day and walking me through every process. The follow through was amazing and I am just so happy that my realtor referred them to me. I was originally referred to another lender that pretty much had no time for me nor did they even bother to try and find me the right loan since I am a widow with one income and a first time buyer with so so credit. I am completely happy with my loan and everything they did for me! Thank you Chad, Maria and Karina for all you did!

Excellent service!
My wife and I purchased a home in Escondido, first home together. Chad and his team made the whole process extremely easy and helped us close quickly. Will recommend to all friends and family!”

Chad and his team are fantastic!

Chad and his team assisted me with the financing of my condo. Every member of Chad’s team was extremely professional, highly competent, super responsive, and friendly. They realize that financing a home can be a stressful experience and they do their best to alleviate that stress by keeping you in the loop on everything. They were great about giving me frequent updates on the status of my application. In addition, they happily answered my questions. At one point, when I felt like I was pestering Chad with questions, his response was a friendly, “keep them coming!” And he meant it!!! Likewise, Maria and Karina were just a pleasure to work with as well! This team is like a fine-tuned machine. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

I highly recommend Chad Baker. He does a phenomenal job and won’t trauma you or your clients. He has a whole team that works on the loans. And all the team members are great. He has a person that can translate for your clients that are Chinese. He is as good of a loan officer as you are an agent, and that is what you want when referring clients to a lender.

Thank you Chad and Team

Chad and his team have been a pleasure to work with. I’m a 3rd time home owner. Wish I had known Chad and team a lot sooner. He made my 3rd home purchase very easy. There were a lot of moving pieces and they handled with professionalism and care. Juliann was a pleasure to work with too. The whole team made it possible for us to move into our dream home. Thanks you Chad and Team!

“Chad and his entire team were over the top amazing, professional, and attentive throughout the entire home loan/buying process. I could not have asked for a better team to have on my side through what could be one of the most challenging and stressful processes one experiences. From the first conversation I had with Chad, I felt comfortable with him. He helped guide us through the process without ever once making us feel uneasy, unimportant, or uninformed. I never felt silly or stupid for asking the same questions over and over until I fully understood what we were getting into, or until something made total sense to me. The home loan world is fast paced, overwhelming, and confusing, and Chad and his team held our hands and helped us to feel comfortable and confident about our choices. He and his team were always there for us day or evenings, weekdays, or weekend and never made you feel like you were a bother if you had a burning question you had to get answered at 8pm Saturday night. I will use them again and again, and suggest them to any friend, family, or acquaintance. Seriously, they are rock stars. They work hard for you to get you into your dream home, we could not be happier with their hard work, dedication, and kindness.”

“Chad Baker is THE BEST, most professional, understanding, HONEST person I’ve ever worked in the mortgage industry. He knows exactly what he’s talking about, will never promise something he can’t deliver, and will bend over backwards to get you what you need. I had a very unique problem qualifying and every other mortgage company I worked with assured me from the beginning that they could get me financed, and then it would all fall apart once we hit underwriting. Chad understood my circumstance from the beginning and patiently explained every step of the way. I can’t thank you enough Chad! Juliann has been great keeping me updated and making sure that everything comes together in a timely fashion. She also appreciates my sense of humor, which gives personality to a boring funding process. Thanks Juliann! I HIGHLY recommend Home Point and if I ever buy another home, will absolutely use them again.”

“I wanted to reach out and tell you both Thank You for working so hard on my loan. I really appreciate how much effort you both put in to make it happen! Top notch, one of the best I have ever seen in the business.”

“Chad – Your team has been nothing short of amazing. Juliann has aggressively followed-up with escrow and gone out of her way to make sure things get done on schedule. Matt and I can’t express to you enough how much we’ve appreciated all of your counsel at the beginning of the process and her execution to see it through to close. As always, appreciate everything that you guys have done to see this through.”

Awesome Team

Chad and his team was awesome throughout the entire process. They made things easy and smooth, and able to answer any questions at anytime. By far the best experience with a lending team yet. Great job!”

I HIGHLY recommend Chad and his team.

Chad and The Chad Baker team really helped me from start to finish with my loan process. They were extremely responsive and provided me updates on a daily basis. I had a few personal issues that they helped me work through so I could get the best loan program and best rate. Very knowledgeable about the industry, rates and trends.I HIGHLY recommend Chad and his team. I’m happy to offer a reference upon request. Please ask Chad for my contact information.”

“Hey Chad – thank you so much to you in particular as well as your team. It’s been a real pleasure working with someone who’s as responsive and helpful throughout the process, as you’ve been. We really appreciate what you’ve done. ”

highly recommend Chad and his team. They were always available for any questions, concerns etc. we had. The process to close the loan went super fast. Chad and his team always went above and beyond. The customer service was the best! I will definitely recommend to all Thank you again for everything!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this article. It's my goal to keep you updated with the latest real estate mortgage news. I'm proud to provide you with 100% original and unique content. Subscribe now to get high quality real estate mortgage content and articles delivered directly to your inbox. Chad Baker is Regional Manager for LendUS. Chad is consistently recognized in the top 1% of mortgage originators in the United States 2011-2017. Got a question for Chad? Call (858) 353-8331 or submit your question online