“One to Buy, Two to Sell,” But . . .
Two to Buy, Two to Sign

It’s practically a mantra for Minnesota Realtors, starting with their pre-licensing coursework:  it takes one partner in a married couple to buy, but two to sell.

Translation:  in Minnesota, married partners automatically have an ownership interest in their spouse’s home.

As a result, anyone who wants to buy a home from a married couple had better make sure both are conveying their interest(s).

Buying vs. Selling

sign hereNow, rewind to when that same married couple purchased.

If both partners’ names appear on the Purchase Agreement and Addenda — not to mention the Pre-Approval for the mortgage — the “one to buy” rule no longer quite applies.

Then, both partners must also sign everything.


I handled a deal earlier this Fall as a listing agent (representing the Buyer), where the Buyer (or their Realtor) was confused about the foregoing.

Namely (pun intended) . . . both partners’ names appeared on the paperwork, but only one signed.


The corollary:  if a couple wants to buy in one partner’s name only, they can do that, provided that the partner can also qualify for the mortgage on their own.

Of course, then all the related contracts should simply name — and be signed by — that person.

P.S.:  If one partner has “credit issues,” lots of student debt, or other negatives, it may be advantageous for the couple to buy in one name only.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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