Although joint tenancy and tenancy in common sound like the same type of property ownership, the difference between the two is extremely important. Joint tenancy is a form of property ownership where each owner received title to the same percentage of ownership at the same time, on the same document, and with the same right of possession. Upon the death of one of the owners, that person's share is distributed evenly to the other owners. Tenancy in common, however, is a type of ownership in which each owner can freely buy and sell her ownership to others and the percentage of ownership does not matter---the owners can own different percentages and the tenancy is not affected.
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Contact your mortgage company. To convert a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common, all you need to do is sell or give away your interest in the property---doing so will break the joint tenancy and automatically form a tenancy in common. It doesn't matter if the actions are contested by other owners, the mere action of selling or gifting your ownership will make the change.
However, the process isn't quite as simple as it looks: an exchange of property needs to take place in writing. You need a new deed, and oftentimes a new mortgage. Depending on your mortgage language, you will probably need to modify or get a new mortgage. Call your mortgage representative to find out if there are any prepayment penalties in drawing up a new deed and getting a new mortgage.
Determine whether to refinance your mortgage. If you must get a new mortgage, you should take the opportunity to consider refinancing. Research various lenders and find out who can give you the best terms on a new loan. For a list of lenders, visit listofmortgagelenders.com. If you have trouble finding a lender for your refinance, a mortgage broker may help you shop around to find the best refinancing deal. Check BankRate.com to find out what the going interest rates are for mortgages.
Consult a real estate attorney. When changing the ownership of property and drawing up new deeds, it is important to get advice from a real estate attorney. To find an attorney who practices real estate law in your area, search the attorney listings at findlaw.com.
Set a date for the closing.To make the actual change in tenancy, you or one of the other owners must sell or give away a gift of all or part of your ownership in the property. Even a transfer of a percentage of ownership between the owners will change the tenancy. In doing so, a new deed must be drawn up to reflect the new owners. Set a date for the closing, at which point your mortgage will be modified and the paperwork for the change in ownership and new deed takes place. Once the closing takes place, the tenancy will be changed.
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