Definition of Owner

An owner is a legal titleholder to a piece of property. There are a variety of types of owners in real estate including sole owners, joint tenants, tenants in common and partnership agreements. There can be more than one legal titleholder—otherwise known as the owner—to a piece of property.

Why is this term important?

There are multiple types of ownership in real estate. Because each type of real estate ownership comes with its own legal ramifications, it is important to determine the type of ownership you are buying from when it comes to a property purchase and what type of ownership you are entering into when it comes to property ownership. 

Sole ownership is where one individual owns the outright interest in a property.

Joint tenants are two or more individuals, spouses or not, who share ownership of a property. In order for this type of ownership to exist, owners must have an equal and undivided interest in the property.

Tenants in common are two or more individuals who have interest in the property. Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common do not need to hold an equal percentage of the property and may sell their percentage ownership of the property at any time, independent of the other owners.

Partnership agreements allow one or more owners to enter into an agreement to purchase and own a property. A partnership can mean equal ownership, or it can be ownership based on a percentage (the more you contribute, the more you own). A partnership agreement should determine how much each owner must contribute upfront, the rights and responsibilities of each partner while the property is owned, and how much each partner will receive when the property is sold.

Examples of term

Some examples of owners outside of real estate include individual, government, private and public ownership.