When it comes to making legal distinctions, the ones connected with buying and selling Austin houses have lasting consequences—so it’s important that they be the intentional kind. Although Three Dog Night might have sincerely believed that One is the Loneliest Number—that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to the title of an Austin home.
The majority of Austin houses are purchased by married couples. Families that remain intact can make property title issues relatively straightforward. But as the second half of the 20th century progressed, the culture became more accepting of people living together prior to marriage. Because of its impact on how people—especially couples—apply for home loans and refinances, the matter of legal title more often came into play.
I don’t offer legal advice, so will simply point out that there are key differences when you hear terms like Tenants in Common, Tenants by the Entirety, or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. Being aware of those distinctions will allow future homeowners to choose which form will serve them best. Couples—especially those expecting to be married down the road—need to consider how things might change should they decide to refinance. It can make a difference if, for instance, a co-signer should later be required. When an Austin homeowner refinances and adds a spouse who was not named on the original mortgage, the spouse may be added to the title or deed. Those and other changes to a property’s title then has tax implications. Married couples may acquire title automatically through Tenancy by Entirety, as well as through rights of survivorship.
The key is to understand the implication of single and joint ownership. In the event of divorce, as with any material change, other rules may apply, too—which is another reason to recommend a consultation with counsel to clarify all related issues.
It’s always an exciting moment when you are about to take on the ownership of a home—certainly cause for celebration. Yet it’s also important to have an honest discussion with your spouse in order to put any existing issues on the table. It's amazing how many couples embark on home ownership (or refinancing) while dealing with significant relational issues. Some meet the issue by drafting a legal agreement that lays out what will happen with the property depending upon specified contingencies. Such agreements won’t carry weight with a mortgage company to effect removal of a person's name from a mortgage in the case of divorce—in most cases, a home would have to be refinanced again to remove a spouse's name from a mortgage.
Understanding the fine print can’t help but reduce the risk of unforeseen consequences down the line. Titles and title insurance may seem to be dull details that automatically confirm intended outcomes, but those outcomes have to be thought through and specified. The good news is they do get properly addressed every day in the course of acquiring a home.
Pointing out the important details are just one element of my service: which is to help you every step of the way!