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Couple standing in front of their new home.

One of the more beautiful sayings in Spanish in my opinion is “Mi casa es su casa.” That translates to “My house is your house.”

That sentiment has a lot to do with the intention behind community property laws. Nine states have laws that say things you buy when you’re married become property of the couple. Depending upon the type of loan you get, this can affect your application for a mortgage. If you can’t make the monthly payment, your spouse may still be responsible for the payments regardless of whether they’re on the loan.

If you’re considering applying without your spouse, there may be cases where it still makes sense to do so. Let’s look at some considerations.

Where and When Does It Apply?

The first thing to figure out is whether community property applies in your state. The following nine states have communal property laws on the books that apply to married couples:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Residents of Alaska also have the option of creating community property estates, but it’s not required that they do so.

There’s another huge caveat to the community property guidelines I’m about to go over:

The following rules concerning debt and credit only apply in the case of FHA and VA loans. If you get your loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, those loans follow traditional guidelines and the debt and credit of your non-borrowing spouse isn’t factored into the loan.

My Debt Is Your Debt

In those states where community property is in effect, a lender is required to request a credit report from the non-borrowing spouse when doing an FHA or VA loan. Investor guidelines on these particular loans require them to consider a number of factors that could impact approval.

Debt-to-income (DTI) Ratio

Lenders need to consider this because a borrower’s debt has to be figured into the qualifying debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Let’s do a quick example on how DTI is calculated.

Let’s say I make $3,000 a month. My car payment is $300. Housing is $700 and I have a credit card bill of around $300 per month. My DTI is 43% ($1,400/$3,000).

On FHA and VA loans in community property states, spousal debts are included in DTI regardless of whether the spouse is on the loan.

Charge-offs and Collections

Charge-offs and collections on accounts occur when payments on debt are considered well past due and the creditor doesn’t think they are likely to collect. At that point, they’ll place a mark on your credit report. Although you can’t fully remove accounts that have been charged off or gone into collection from your credit report for seven years, you can pay them off in full or sometimes work out a payment plan to deal with the obligations.

If your spouse has charge-offs or collections to pay off, they may affect your DTI. This is true for certain FHA and VA loans. One thing to note is that if the collections are in the name of your spouse, you may not have to wait 12 months prior to applying in order to get a VA loan. The collections just need to be paid off at closing.

Judgments and Liens

If your spouse has judgments or property liens, those can also affect your ability to close a loan and, in some instances, are required to be paid off. Exactly how it works depends on the type of loan you’re getting.

Credit

You’re probably wondering at this point why you would bother applying alone in a community property state if your spouse’s debt and credit report are taken into account anyway?

While your spouse’s credit report has to be ordered on FHA and VA loans to take a look at the debts, the credit score is not taken into account. This means you can’t be denied for a mortgage if your spouse has a bad credit score. In contrast, if you apply together, all scores are taken into account for both clients.

We hope this has cleared up some of the factors involved in applying for a mortgage in community property states, but a lot of this depends on the specific type of loan you’re getting. If you still have questions, call us at (800) 251-9080. You can also leave your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them or get them to the right people.

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This Post Has 191 Comments

  1. I live in community property state with wife. I want to put cash out refi loan on home we own in only my name, my wife will sign approval. Will lenders still look at her credit and debt/income?

    1. Hi Ero:

      It depends on the type of loan you get. If it’s a conventional loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, her debts and credit aren’t looked at. If it’s an FHA or VA loan, she will have credit looked at for the purposes of determining debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This is a government guideline. However, the credit score isn’t considered in your qualification. I hope this helps! If you would like to get started, you can do so online through Rocket Mortgage or give us a call at (888) 980-6716.

  2. In a community property state, if my wife is a non-borrowing spouse, and if i should pass away, will she have access to the loan to make payments? What legal rights will she have to the property and associated obligation?

    1. Hi Joe:

      The nuances of community property states can be very confusing. If you live in one of the nine states listed in the article, your home would be considered “community property,” which means that both you and your wife have equal rights to it. So, even though your wife is a non-borrowing spouse, she will still have legal rights to the property and be held accountable for paying off the loan should you pass away. Thanks for reaching out!

  3. I have a mortgage in my name only. I asked my husband to leave and he’s said to me that I would need to buy him out if I wanted him to leave. Is this true? Even if his name isn’t on the mortgage and I’m making all payments because he doesn’t work. Do I have to buy him out for him to leave?

    1. Hi Tara:

      Ownership of the house has nothing to do with your cohabitation situation, so where he lives while the divorce is being handled is a separate issue. What I can tell you is that if you live in a community property state and bought the property while married, he likely has ownership rights in the home regardless of whether he’s actually officially on the loan or title. Because of this, you may have to buy him out as part of the settlement, depending on what the two of you negotiate. I highly recommend finding legal representation in your area.

  4. We own a home in Wisconsin. It is completely paid for, no mortgage. I have excellent credit. My husband has severe dementia and cannot communicate. I have court -appointed Guardianship of him. I applied for a loan and am told I cannot sign the paperwork for the loan because we live in a community property state. Everything has been approved for this loan by the bank but the title company is saying I must get a lawyer and return to court to get permission to sign. The house was put in my name only last year when the guardianship was granted. The loan is not even in his name. This is a Fannie Mae loan. What is the real story here?

    1. Hi Ruby:

      Fannie Mae has different community property policies, but when it comes to the title company, they may have a different interpretation of Wisconsin law. I can tell you that because Wisconsin is a community property state and the two of you are married, your husband likely legally has ownership of the property regardless of whether his name is actually on the title. I’m not a lawyer, nor am I familiar with Wisconsin law enough to tell you anything definitive, but one thing that might be helpful is to look into power of attorney in addition to guardianship. Given your situation, I would say that you could get that and that would probably take care of this. I hope this helps!

  5. If a husband and wife live in Arizona. (Community Property State) buy a 2nd home in MN (A Marital Property State), then a year later decide to get a HELOC. The wife is going to be the only one on the note. The husband will still sign the collateral documents as required by law. Does the lender need to request a copy of the Husbands credit, and follow the community property guidelines?

    1. Hi Mike:

      Community property guidelines don’t apply here if the property securing the HELOC is in Minnesota and your credit wouldn’t have to be pulled. If the property securing the HELOC is in Arizona, it does have to be taken into account at least as far as looking at your debts.

  6. My husband is veterans. He is the only income for the family and I don’t have income and have no debts either. We are trying to buy a house at California. Currently we are in the loan application process. My husband is on the Loan alone since I have some charged off accounts( I have already paid off …just week before we get into the loan application process.) we are trying to use va loan. Our credit score and dti are all okay. I just worried about my charger off accounts…. is that true that as long as my charged off accounts have been paid off, we will get the va loan? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nancy:

      If they’re paid off, you should be fine and this shouldn’t come into play at all. Since it’s a government loan, these types of requirements are fairly standard across lenders, so you shouldn’t have trouble!

  7. I’m legally separated. I live in North Carolina while my “other” lives in Washington. He wants to buy a home and he keeps telling me that they need to check my credit score so he can buy a home. I’m a bit confused. Will they actually pull my credit score? Does my name have to be on the loan? I’m just worried that it’ll negatively affect me since my plan is to purchase a home in a year or so and I’ve been working to get my credit score up. Supposedly our divorce will be final by December. Any information will help.

    1. Hi Lidia:

      If he lives in Washington state, that’s a community property state. Assuming that’s where he’s buying the home, your credit could need to be pulled which would have the effect of temporarily lowering your credit score. The reason for this is that since you’re married, your debts would have to be taken into account in his debt-to-income ratio because it’s also considered shared debt as a couple. One thing to note is that this only applies if it’s an FHA, USDA or VA loan that he is getting. It doesn’t apply to conventional loans through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If he’s getting one of those, you don’t have to have your credit pulled.

      If you do end up needing to have your credit pulled, your score would temporarily go down, but it would recover in a relatively short period of time if you maintained good habits like maintaining a low credit card balance and making payments on time, etc. You do also have the option of refusing the credit pull, but you might not be able to get a house.

      In no circumstance would you be required to be on the actual loan or in any way responsible for the payments. I hope this information has been helpful!

  8. i am married, i go equity loan under single-man in texas, lender is foreclosure on me, what will happen to my wife? i did not notice about single-man in application, Can lender charge me as fraud?

    1. Hi Hooshang:

      It sounds like this was a mistake and I’m sorry that it’s happened to you. With that said, I think you should retain legal counsel in your area. Whether they charge to with anything or not, a lawyer in your area would be aware of your rights. I wish you luck!

  9. I live in Nevada a community property state. Me and my husband are looking to sell and buy a house. The house we live in I bought 7 years ago before we married( we got married last year) I want to sell our home and have him apply for a mortgage by himself and use a portion of his 401k for the down payment on the new home. Will this be allowed since we are married and I am a homeowner?

    1. Hi Ashley:

      He would be allowed to apply on his own. Only his credit score would be looked at. However, since you’re married in a community property state,if it’s a government loan through the FHA, USDA or VA, your debts would be included in his debt-to-income (DTI) ratio with very limited exemptions. That’s just something to be aware of. If it’s a conventional loan and he applies on his own, only his debts are counted.

      If he would like to go over his options online, he can do so with Rocket Mortgage® or by giving one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716.

  10. I want to buy a home and I am still legal married to my husband ( we have lived apart for over a year) and also file taxes together but do not want him to own the property in any way.
    Is there a way I can do this without him knowing or without him trying to take part possession?

    1. Hi Sarah:

      If you live in a community property state, the answer may be no, depending on the way the laws are written. But I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.

  11. My husband is purchasing a triplex in Milwaukee but we live in California. He says it’s a commercial loan since it’s an investment property. Do I have to be involved? Do they have to run my credit or ask for my financials regarding a home I purchased prior to marriage? Is there a way for me to refuse to provide my mortgage info and he still be able to move forward?

    1. Hi KC:

      We don’t do commercial lending. However, typically a building with only three units may not be a commercial loan, but instead a residential loan for an investment property. Wisconsin is a community property state, so those guidelines would apply in a residential scenario. Your credit would be pulled in a residential scenario, but as far as your DTI questions, I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 two go over how this might work in a residential lending scenario.

  12. I would like to take out a home equity loan on a home in a community property state, that I purchased with my first wife, who passed away, and the home is now entirely in my name. My new wife is overseas, and does not have a US visa, or has ever visited the US. Does she have to sign on the loan, as the home can be considered my primary residence, but not our marital residence. She is not eligible for an entry visa for likely 12 months given the state of the state department, and cannot apply for a tourist visa as she is entitled to an entry visa???. Am I to assume that she will be required to be present in the US to sign the mortgage documents?

    1. Hi Barry:

      While we don’t offer home equity loans at this time, we could help you look into a cash-out refinance. That said, it sounds like you have a bit of a complicated situation. I recommend your next step be to speak with one of our Home Loan Experts (888) 980-6716. Thanks!

  13. I have already been approved for a mortgage loan. I am a100% disabled veteran. Also draw social security. My income is good enough to buy a home. I spoke with the va because I want
    to use my certificate. Since we live in Texas I found out today that I must put my husband on the loan. What chance do I have to get a loan . His credit is effected because of his children. I did not know all the facts before I married.

    1. Thank you for your service! If you’ve already been approved, I can’t speak to the policies of the other company. I can tell you about our policies.

      Since Texas is a community property state, he would have to be on the loan. This would mean that any outstanding debts he has would be counted toward the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). However, we don’t look at his credit score for qualification purposes. If you would like to go over this with one of our Home Loan Experts you can give us a call at (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps and have a great day!

  14. my husband purchased a home after we were married, my name is not on the title, it just says a married man. Am I half owner of the home.

    1. Hi Maria:
      If you live in one of the nine states listed in the article above, your home would be considered “community property,” meaning you both have equal rights to it. If you live elsewhere and your name isn’t on the title, it’s likely that your husband is the sole owner of the property. Hope this helps!

  15. Married one year. Buying new house. Husbands credit is excellent. My credit is only in mid
    500’s. Is it mandatory for the lender to include my credit score??

    Thank you

    1. Hi Jan:

      Since you’re commenting on a community property post, I’ll start with those rules. If you happen to live in one of the nine community property states listed above and you’re getting a loan backed by the government (FHA, USDA or VA), whether you want to be on the loan or not, your debt is taken into account in determining the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your credit score is not factored in for qualification purposes. On a conventional loan from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, if you’re not on the loan, your debt and credit score aren’t factored in, but your income can’t be used on the loan.

      In non-community property states, your credit score and debt aren’t factored in to the equation if you’re not on the loan, but your income also can’t be used to help qualify. I hope this helps! For a deeper dive on your personal situation and to help find the best option I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.

  16. Me and my husband are trying to by a home. We live in south Mississippi. We are wanting to just use my credit because it’s the better score, but my debt to ratio isn’t that good. Can we use my credit with my husbands income without using his credit.

    1. Hey Carrie:

      Unfortunately, if you want to use his income, he has to be on the loan and we have to use his credit. I’m sorry. If you want to go over your options with one of our Home Loan Experts and look into potential solutions, you can give us a call at (888) 980-6716 and we’ll be happy to talk!

  17. my spouse and i are headed for divorce. it is amicable. I want to purchase a home prior to our divorce. Can i do that without my spouse on the deed?

    1. Hi Carol:

      That depends on marital signatory requirements in your state. If it’s a community property state, he definitely would have rights to the purchase if you purchased it while still married. I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 to go over your situation and get the right information.

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