Ask Will: One Home, Two Owners, So Many Ownership Options

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: My girlfriend and I are thinking about buying a home. We both have steady jobs and have watched the market closely. We think a condo would be best, but are unclear about owning a place together because we aren’t married. What are our options?

A: If you’re purchasing a property in Virginia you have a few options for holding a title together. Make sure to review and identify the option that works best for all parties involved.

Tenancy in common is a form of ownership most common when a property purchase involves more than one person. It is possible to involve more than two people in this agreement, as well, and either share equal ownership or divide it up in a way agreed upon by all parties. Additionally, in most cases under tenancy in common, an individual can sell their interest without the approval from the other owners. Should an owner pass away, the property can be transferred to someone else through a will or heirs.

Joint Tenancy is when two or more people have equal interest in and possession of the property. If a property is owned under “joint tenancy with the right of survivorship,” then in the event one person passes away the other will automatically gain ownership of the premises. An owner can also seller their interest to a third party.

Tenancy by the entirety is a special form of joint tenancy reserved for a couple that is married and considers them as a whole. Both parties have equal ownership of the property and a right of survivorship. Neither party can sell their interest without the other.

It’s important to review the different types of ownership before closing on a property and understand that each type has options. If anyone would like additionally information on other types of ownership or would like to be connected to a title company that can assist them, please reach out to me.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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