How Should I Take Title?


One Person’s Name:  Sole Owner

If a recorded deed only contains one name, that person is the legal owner and has full legal power to sell or will away the house or other real property, even if someone else has contributed to the purchase and holds a nonrecorded interest.

If you are wanting to buy with another person that has poor credit (i.e. won’t qualify for a mortgage or will result in a higher interest rate) you can add the person’s name to the title later—sometimes transfer taxes and fees may apply, so be prepared.  Solution to this would be to sign a separate contract that spells out the actual property interests of both parties.  You should speak to a real estate lawyer, I know a great one, just ask and I will get you the info!

Joint Tenancy

You share equal ownership of the property and each of you has the right to use the entire property.  If one person dies, the other automatically becomes the owner of the deceased person’s share, even if there is a will to the contrary.  The advantage is that at the death of the first joint tenant, the property passes to the surviving joint tenant without the expense and trouble of probate proceedings.  But this may not last forever, if one joint tenant sells their share, the joint tenancy ends and the new owner and the original owner becomes tenants in common.  In any case, be sure there is a written agreement.

Tenants In Common

This is the most common way for unmarried couples to take title.  The tenants in common have no automatic right to inherit the property when the other party dies.  When one tenant dies, his or her share of the jointly owned property is left to whomever is specified in the will or living trust.  If there is no will, the person’s intestate heirs will inherit his or her share—and that does not include a living together partner.

So there ya have it!  Not a real fun topic, thinking about what happens when either you or someone you own property with dies.  But, it is a very important to know what your options are so you can take title to real property the way it makes the most sense for your own situation.  Questions?  Call or e-mail me, I am here to help!!

Buying – The Importance of a Sewer Scope

When buying a home, new construction included, I recommend that my buyers ALWAYS perform a sewer scope in addition to a regular home inspection.  A sewer scope is a very cut and dry inspection of the sewer line from the house to where it connects with the city sewer (usually located in the street).  Sewer issues can be very costly, upwards of $10K – $15K, depending on the severity.  A sewer scope will cost you about $250.

The scope is done using a plumbing snake that has a camera on the end of it.  The snake is fed through the house’s sewer clean out (usually located in the basement or a low point of the house).  If there is no clean out, the inspector can access the line through the vent (on the roof) or by removing a toilet.

The most common issue with sewers, especially in the Northwest, is tree root intrusion.  Tree roots get into the sewer line and debris can get hung up in the roots causing an obstruction which will eventually lead to a back-up of the line.  This problem is generally an easy fix by either jetting or using a cutting blade on the end of a snake to break up the roots/clog.  The next most common problem is a collapsed line (older homes) or improper installation on the line (newer homes).  Both require that the line be dug up in order to be fixed which again, can be very expensive.  These are issues you will want to discover BEFORE buying a new house.  I have seen BRAND NEW construction with sewer lines that were installed incorrectly and were leaking.

A sewer inspection is very straight forward as the camera does not lie.  It is either clean and clear or is clogged and/or collapsed.  The inspector will provide a DVD of the results or will post the results on YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

I have a video of a sewer scope on my YouTube channel.  This example was on a home build in 1927 and the entire line was trashed.  The final cost was $15,800 which we were able to negotiate as a reduction in the purchase price.  Had we not had the sewer scoped, there would have inevitably been a backup at some point followed by a $16K surprise!!