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Can We Own a House Together?



This article not prepared by City Weekly Staff

When you own piece of property-land, a house, a condo, a ranch, etc., you own the rights to sell it, rent it, etc. You also have the choice to own it with another person or persons. The most common question I got from LBGT couples at Pride last weekend was, “Can we buy a house together?”

If you go back in time, say before the 1800s, a woman’s property (land, homes, slaves, money) was always owned or controlled by her father or her husband. This was due to the “dower laws” brought over from England when the United States was established. Widows couldn’t sell land or slaves but could live off the crops and dower rents until they passed on. In 1945, we abolished the dower (probably due to the massive amount of solders dying and leaving widows here owning properties during and after WWII).

You may own a property with anyone you wish. Example: Bob owns a house in Rose Park and falls in love with John who lives in Sugar House. They decide to sell the Rose Park home and move into the Sugar House property. Bob sells his property and claims his “primary residence” deduction on his sale the following year with the IRS. John and Bob then go to a title company and have Bob’s name put on the deed with John’s. Important note: 1. Bob is not on the mortgage documents, so the debt is always in Johns name. 2. The property cannot be sold without Bob and John agreeing to sell it and both of them signing off the deed at closing.

Let’s say Bob had a bit of dalliance behind the beer garden at Pride and John decides that Bob is not the guy for him. He says, “Get out of my house, you tramp!” Well, NASA, we have a problem. Now the two men have to figure out 1. Will Bob buy John’s share out and get a new mortgage, or have John’s seller finance him until Bob can qualify for a new loan, or 2. will Bob and John put the home up for sale and go their separate ways? With the second option, Bob and John may have made a profit on the sale. If the two men can’t agree on who gets the profit, the money will sit at the title company after the closing until both parties agree as to how to separate it. And, oy! What if Bob refuses to sell the property? Hellooooo, Judge Wapner.

Of course you can own property with your beloved—or your relative, or a friend. It’s easy to add someone onto your deed. But get counseling when you decide to add another party onto your ownership documents because there are many questions that will come up before and after you do this, like, What if one of us has more equity in the property—how do I protect myself and my money? What if one of us dies? Who gets the money after the property sells—my partner or my mom and dad? Is there a tax incident if I add someone to my deed? Can I take someone off my deed easily?

Content produced expressly for Classifieds Directory.

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