Co-Owning a Home: How to “Take Title”                 

When two or more people purchase a home together, there are a number of ways to enter into title on settlement day.  Security Abstract strongly encourages the buyers’ representative to present these options to their clients early in the homebuying process to ensure that they have plenty of time to choose prior to settlement day, as this is a significant decision that could have longstanding and impactful ramifications. 

The options for two or more buyers are as follows:

Tenants by the Entirety.  This option is reserved exclusively for married spouses, and it is a unique form of ownership in which each spouse owns 100% of the property, founded upon the premise that when spouses marry, they become a single legal entity.  Tenants by the entirety also allows for survivorship rights; if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse immediately and automatically becomes the sole owner of the property.

Additionally, if a judgment is issued against just one spouse, the property is immune from collection by creditors; this type of protection is notably not afforded to other types of ownership. (Please note that while Pennsylvania recognizes Tenancy by the Entireties, not all states do.)

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS). With JTWROS, each owner owns an equal portion of the property, and must enter into ownership at the same time.  Joint tenants have the right to sell their interest in the property, however, and in this instance, the new buyer and the remaining joint tenant become tenants in common.

Additionally, “right of survivorship” ensures that if one owner dies, the remaining share automatically passes to the surviving owner(s).   However, unlike tenancy by the entireties, if one owner receives a judgment against them, their interest can be sold to the creditor.

Tenants in Common.  This is the most flexible ownership type, as it allows for co-owners to own unequal shares in the property (for example, one person can own 70% and the other can own 30%), and does not automatically include the right of survivorship. In other words, if an owner dies, their share of the property then goes to their estate.

Like joint tenancy, however, tenants in common have an equal right to possess and use the entire property (e.g. they may not claim a specific area of the property) and have the right to individually sell their share of ownership in the property at any time. Additionally, and similar to JTWROS, if one owner receives a judgment against them, their stake in the property can be sold to the creditor.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at or at (610) 584-6890.  We are happy to assist you and your clients every step of the way!

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