Buying a House Without Your Spouse: Your Mortgage Questions Answered - Quicken Loans Zing BlogTying the knot comes with a lot of financial implications. It can raise your taxes. It can lower them (if you’re lucky). It can affect the types of retirement accounts you can get. It can affect how much you pay for insurance. And, in some cases, it can even affect your mortgage.

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re getting ready to buy a house. But if you’re married, one that you might not have thought about is whether you and your spouse should both be on the home loan. In some cases, having only one spouse on the mortgage might be the best option.

If you’re looking to get a mortgage without your spouse, or if you’re just wondering why in the world someone would do this, I’ve got a few answers. I spoke with Lindsay Villasenor, a Quicken Loans operations director, to get some insight on what happens when only one spouse is on a mortgage. If you’re married and you’re taking the plunge into the real estate market, here’s what you should know about buying a house with only one spouse on the loan.

Why Would You Buy a House Without Your Spouse?

There are a couple of reasons why you might leave your spouse off the mortgage. Let’s take a look.

One Spouse Has a Low Credit Score

Unfortunately, mortgage companies won’t simply use the highest credit score between the two of you, or even the average of your scores; they’ll pay the most attention to the lowest credit score. So if your spouse has a credit score that would prevent you from getting the best possible rates, you might consider leaving your spouse off the mortgage – unless you need your spouse’s income to qualify for a decent loan amount.

One Spouse’s Income Doesn’t Meet the Requirements

According to Lindsay, “2/2/2 is a general rule for all documentation requirements.” This simply means that you’ll need two years of W2s, two years of tax returns and two months of bank statements. Depending on your situation, more documentation may be required. Conversely, less documentation may be required depending on the type of loan you’re getting, but you should be prepared with these documents just in case.

Now if one spouse doesn’t meet these requirements – say this spouse doesn’t have two years of W2s – then it might make sense to leave this spouse off the mortgage. If your spouse is self-employed, he or she will usually need two years of business returns (although this may vary depending on the loan type and the structure of the business). If your spouse is unable to provide this documentation, for instance if he or she has only been in business for a year, then it may make sense to leave this spouse off the loan.

Things to Know About Leaving Your Spouse Off the Mortgage

If you’re the only one on the mortgage, the underwriter will only look at your stuff, right? It’s not always that simple. Here are a few things to know if you’re getting a mortgage without your spouse.

You Will Probably Qualify for a Smaller Loan Amount

If you’re part of a two-income household, getting a mortgage with both spouses usually means you’ll qualify for a bigger home loan. However, if your spouse isn’t on the loan with you, your lender won’t consider your spouse’s income.  Therefore, you’ll probably have to settle for a smaller, less expensive home.

The exception to this would be loans that take into account the income of household members whether or not they’re on the loan. An example of this would be rural development loans from the USDA where your income has to fall below a certain level.

Joint Bank Accounts Are Just Fine

So what if you’re only using one income to qualify, but you have a joint bank account with your spouse? According to Lindsay, this doesn’t really impact underwriting.

“As long as our client is on the account and it’s a joint account, it’s determined that they are both legally allowed to access all of the funds,” says Lindsay. As long as you’re on the account, it’s your money and it won’t pose any problems for your home loan.

Your Mortgage Company May Look at Your Spouse’s Debt

When your mortgage company approves you for a loan, they look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is the percentage of your gross income that goes toward debt. Your DTI can have a huge impact on your home loan.

If one spouse has a lot of debt, you might consider leaving them off the mortgage to decrease your DTI ratio. However, if the home is in a community property state and you’re getting a FHA or VA loan, both spouses’ debts will be taken into consideration.

So what’s a community property state? In a community property state, all assets and all debt belong to both spouses. Says Lindsay, “The phrase, ‘What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours’ is actual law in these states.” There are currently nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. If you live in one of these states and you’re getting a FHA or VA loan, your mortgage company will look at the debts of both spouses.

Well, there you have it. Are you and your spouse considering a one-spouse mortgage? Speak with a home loan expert or leave your questions in the comments section below!

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This Post Has 729 Comments

  1. How hard is it to get a lender to approve taking a spouse off a loan? Just starting down divorce road and need to purchase residence. Don’t want to wait until after, but spouse is willing to buy jointly and quit-claim property. But I’m told lender has to also approve taking spouse off loan. Spouse has no income (except will have spousal support) and not much debt. Spouse also has better credit than me (mine fair – good, and spouse is excellent), so having on now for loan application would probably help me.

  2. My husband & I live in CA and rent a condo. We are moving to FL and buying a home. My husband will continue to be employed by his current employer. I will most likely continue working remotely for my current employer, but the details haven’t been outlined yet. My husband’s salary will cover the mortgage until I get a new job if my current job doesn’t continue remotely. Am I able to be on the loan if I cannot produce a letter of employment at this time?

    1. Hi Twissy:

      There’s nothing preventing you from being on the loan. The advice I’m about to give you may not come into play if your current job continues, but for the moment, let’s assume worst-case scenario.

      If you don’t have a job, you can still be on the loan. However, if you do that, your debts would be taken into account in the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). That would be the case any time two of you are on the loan, but the mortgage lender would not be able to include your income either, so in this case, you being on the loan could end up hurting qualification prospects. The good news is even if you’re not on the loan, you could still be on the title meaning that you and your husband would own the home jointly. The loan has no effect on the title. I do recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts who could go over your personal situation in more detail. You can reach them at (888) 980-6716. I hope this helps and have a great day!

  3. Hi there!
    Moving to GA with my wife and 2 kids, and looking to buy home. I have a 15yo. Judgement from NY state that wasn’t renewed at the 10 year mark. I’m worried will harm our chances.
    I make $58k with no debt. with Fair – good credit
    My wife will take a pay cut moving into GA to $39k with Car note & Student Loan w/ very good credit
    Combined Credit card debt is under $1000.
    Can you advise us on how to approach acquiring a mortgage.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Shawn:

      I’m going to advise that you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 to go over the particulars of your situation. I’m also going to suggest you check out Annual Credit Report where you’ll be able to get a copy of your report for each bureau. The reason I say that is that the judgment is old and wasn’t renewed, so it’s possible you’re not even going to see it on your credit. If it’s not there, you can know for sure it won’t hurt you.

  4. I just got discharged of my debt through chapter 7, therefore I should wait for 2 years in order to qualify for mortgage.
    My girlfriend, wich doesn’t have any debt, is willing to buy a house for us with our two children, but she can only qualify for so much with her only income. Since she wants a bigger loan, would my income be in consideration without me being a part of the contract just to help increase the loan amount?

    1. Hi Joel:

      If you’re not on the loan, unfortunately, your income isn’t included. However, we do have one option which might help you qualify for a home in as little as a year after the discharge. It is true that you would have more options after two years, but I would recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Thanks for reaching out!

  5. Hello! I am currently married, but need to move on my own to another state. I have a 664 credit score with only one major negative report (lost my previous home during a medical event to the Wells Fargo fiasco) 6-7 years ago. I have a decent down payment and the monthly payment amount (including PMI, etc) for the home I am interested in is less than my daughter’s monthly disability payment. The biggest problem I keep coming across is that I do not have two years employment. I have a good, consistent work history prior to my marriage, but my husband will do anything to keep me from working. I have been able to hold a part time position, but will have less than 6 months history. If I can move closer to family (and away from husband), I will be able to work full time in addition to the disability income. I can get a job first, but will need to find housing right away. However, while I could afford a mortgage on a small house I cannot afford to rent a 3 bedroom home which I need for my 3 kids and myself. Is there any chance I could get a mortgage in this situation? What can I do to be in a better position to get a home soon?

    1. That sounds like a difficult situation. I sympathize. I think the best thing to do would be to speak with one of our Home Loan Experts about your situation. I can’t promise we would be able to help right away. Everyone’s situation is different and we would have to talk to you about yours. However, at minimum, we can give you advice on what you might be able to do to get on the right track toward mortgage qualification. You can get in touch with us at (888) 980-6716.

  6. Husband and wife live in va home wife is only one on the mortgage because we have two homes 1st home in both names 2nd home just in wife name if wife passes away does husband have rights to second home neither husband or wife have wills but we are getting up in age just like to know what will happen in life Tom

  7. My wife is VA in CO. She is buying the home herself, but needs my assets to qualify, but she is not joint on my bank account. The loan is already in process

    Could I just add her to the account and send proof from the bank that she has been added to the account, or is there a seasoning requirement.

    1. Hi Ryan:

      Different lenders may have different policies, but it doesn’t look like we have any specific requirements unless the account itself was just opened. What matters is that she has access. Hope this helps!

  8. I currently own a house by myself and my boyfriend lives with me and pays for half of our bills. We want to get a bigger house. He has awful credit and a lot of debt so I would be the only one buying our new house as well. I was wondering if there was a way to include his income or at least his portion of our shared bills when applying for the mortgage without putting his name on the title.
    Maybe there’s a way for us to make a contract and have him pay a monthly rent to me? And include that contract when I apply for the mortgage?

    1. Hi Sam:

      Unfortunately, if you want his income included on the loan, his credit and debt have to be included as well. In order for a rental agreement to work, it would have to be a multi-unit property with the two of you living in separate units. That being said, I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They would be able to go over any and all options you would have.

  9. we applied for owner house buy but the title company wrote us up as husband and wife,,we r mother n son now we having difficultly he wants to have my son to sign off but i wondering why he is wanting that i have title deed i

    1. Hi JP:

      I can tell you that if you want to be on the title, you have to sign all the paperwork. However, the rest of this sounds like the title company made an error. You will have to work through that with them. That’s all I can tell you. Thanks for reaching out!

  10. My husband and I have an LLC and we are looking to buy a house but we would like to only use me to buy it. Would we be able to take his name off the business for a while and just have me on there that way he isn’t apart of the home buying process? He is here on a visa and so really doesn’t have a credit history and in out previous years I have had a job and I have just been able to buy our houses but since I have fully transitioned to our own business it’s proven to be harder to leave him out of the home buying process.

    1. Hi Nikki:

      Every situation is different. I would suggest speaking to one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They’ll be able to provide you with information that applies to your specific financial situation. I hope this helps!

  11. Me and my husband have been living apart for almost 4 yrs. I want to get a USDA loan for purchasing me a bigger home for me and the kids. I live in Florida and I wanted to know if I would have to put him on the loan being it’s a government loan?? I have a decent credit score between good and fair score 656, but he has poor credit score of 520. This will make me have to pay for his score being so low. Will this be possible for me to do in Florida of applying for a loan through them??

    1. Hi Ebony:

      Florida isn’t a community property state, so you can apply without your husband and his credit score doesn’t have to be taken into account. I’m going to suggest you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 and we can help go over your options.

  12. My husband and I are going through a separation for an indefinitely; he keeps saying he is going to purchase his own house, do you know if anything should happen to him and his ability to make mortgage payments, how or will that affect me? I don’t want to be associated with the house/debt/mortgage; just wondering if I need to take legal action prior to him buying this house.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Meghan:

      If you live in a community property state, it has the potential to affect you because you’re still married. Depending on the type of loan he gets and the way they originate the loan, you could be responsible for his debt. This is generally true of government loans backed by the FHA, USDA and the VA, but it doesn’t apply to conventional loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There may be circumstances where he can sign something saying you’re not responsible for the debts if he gets an FHA loan, for example, but that’s the one thing I would worry about. In a non-community property state, he can get a loan without you being responsible for the debt. Hope this helps!

  13. My spouse moved from California to Michigan for new job and I live and work in California (I travel to Michigan on some weekends). Now spouse planning to buy a house in Michigan (we dont own any other property anywhere) and planning to get mortgage loan without my name on loan. What could be the tax implications in California or Michigan if we file taxes jointly? Is it recommended to file separately in this case? Can my name be added as owner even if my name is not on mortgage?

    1. Hi Jack:

      I can tell you for sure that you can be added as an owner on the title without being on the mortgage. That’s doable.

      As far as taxes are concerned, that gets into nuances of both national and state tax law. We’re not in the tax or financial advisory business. I would recommend you speak to a tax adviser about the implications and the best way to file because everyone’s situation is unique.

  14. Hey there. My brother is buying out my half of an inherited house that is still in trust. His lender wants me to sign a “gift of equity letter”. Is this a necessary form for a lender to have when that “gift” isn’t a gift but an inheritance? I would think just having a copy of the trust naming brother as beneficiary of half would be enough in lieu of a down payment and wonder if this would trigger any gift taxes the trust would owe (which seems unnecessary since it is inheritance).

    1. Hi Gina:

      Traditionally, a gift of equity occurs when someone (usually required to be a family member) sells you a property for below the sale price. It does seem interesting that your lender wants to consider selling your inheritance to your brother as a gift of equity, but I would just confirm with your lender that this is the best option for your situation. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable with signing a gift of equity, you might also want to reach out to an attorney, since this is dealing with an inheritance. I hope this helps.

  15. I bought a house in GA before getting married to my fiance and I am the only one with my name on it. If she were to buy a house in her name, would it count as a first home, second home, or investment property? would she be OK to qualify
    my fiance Income $38k No debt.
    my Income $42k Debt mortgage $145k monthly Pay $800
    No car Payment only Insurance $80
    No Credit Cards debt

    1. Hi Alex:

      When it comes to property classification, the key factor is whether or not she’ll be spending the majority of her time there. If you spend the majority of the year there, it’s a primary residence. If not, it’s considered either a second home or an investment property depending on whether you have renters the majority of the year.

      As far as qualification, it helps that she has no debt if she wants to qualify on her own with strictly her income. If you both want to be on the mortgage in order to potentially afford more house, your debt is minimal, which is also good. That said, I’m not licensed, so I can’t say for sure what your chances for approval or the terms would be for sure. I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts by calling (888) 980-6716. Thanks for reaching out!

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