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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 737 Comments

  1. I bought a house 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? I am asking because I am wondering if we can purchase a second home this way with a lower down payment(3% for first home vs 20% for second home or investment property)

    1. Hi Vince:

      There are 3% down programs now that you don’t need to be a first-time home buyer to take advantage of. The problem you’re going to run into is that for a lot of the low down payment programs, they require that she be living there as a primary residence. That being said, the minimum required down payment for a second home is 10% and not the 20% you’re thinking of. If you would like to go over your options, you can speak with one of our Home Loan Experts by giving us a call at (888) 980-6716 at your convenience. Have a good day!

  2. My husband is incarcerated. Can I buy a home using just my name and have him weave any rights to the home I plan to buy? I was just wondering if there’s a form out there that he can sign stating that he does not want anyting with the home or can I get a conventional loan just under my name and he not have any rights to the home?

    1. Hi Rosemary:

      You have two separate issues here. One is whether you live in a community property state. If you don’t, you can get a loan without your husband being involved. If you do live in a community property state, it may be more complicated, but I really don’t know how it works if he’s incarcerated and what rights he might be giving up. I would talk to a lawyer about that part.

  3. I live in Texas. My wife and I are separated but not divorced. I want to buy property in Minnesota, will this still be considered community property with my separated wife and will she need to sign on the loan?

    1. Hi Robin:

      It’s possible that your wife would have to sign something at the closing because Texas is a community property state, but I would recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They would be able to give you the most accurate information based on your situation. She wouldn’t have to be on the loan, but there’s a chance her debt would have to be taken into account depending on the type of loan you had. I hope this helps with some of the things you need to think about. I recommend speaking with someone before going any further. Thanks!

  4. My husband credit is not good mine is fair. I do foster care and he works. We file taxes together but he can’t be on the loan and without his income i might not be able to get a decent loan. Some companies accept non taxable income with tax returns and proof of income. What should i do i want to buy a home. I was told that non taxable income can be increased to help ppl.to be able to buy a home. Plz.help what can I do?

    1. Hi Tee:

      I’m going to suggest you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts to go over your situation in more detail. That number is (888) 980-6716 and we would be happy to go over any options you might have. Have a good day!

  5. My husband and I live in TX and are trying to buy a house. We want to use his VA loan but I cannot be on it because my credit score it too low. He was able to get pre-qualified but they took into counted my student loans against my husband for his D-T-I ratio but not my only two credit cards. I understand about Texas being a communal state but my husband is not on those loans and if I die he does not inherit them. They are in my name only. Is there a way for my husband to get pre-qualified without anyone using my student loans? I am desperate for a solution.

    1. Hi Rebecca:

      The VA has its policies and even if the debt can’t be inherited, there’s no real way of getting around it. With an FHA loan, you would have the option of getting a court declaration that he is not responsible for the debt, but that’s the only option as far as any kind of government loan where your debts wouldn’t count. You would run into the same problem with a USDA loan. Conventional loans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are different and don’t take into account the same guidelines. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news. We can certainly have one of our Home Loan Experts look into your options for you if you give us a call at (888) 980-6716. We may be able to come up with something that helps you accomplish your purchasing goal together.

  6. I am married. I am getting a loan for a new house. My husband will not be on the loan because his credit is poor. He just came out of a bankruptcy and now has back taxes to pay. Question, what are the financial risks if I put his name on the deed – judgements, liens, etc. should I leave him off until he gets Tia better financial state?

    1. Hi Lena:

      If he has ownership of the house, which you would with the title, you would have the potential for them to put liens on the house including tax liens. The safest scenario would be to wait. However, if you’re in a community property state, it may not matter.

      1. Thank you for your advice. I have one more question. I am buying a house. My husband will not be on the loan because his credit is poor. If I add him to the deed, will this tie our credit together?

        1. Hi again Lena:

          Merely adding him to the title won’t tie your credit together. If you live in a community property state and are getting a government loan (FHA, USDA or VA), his credit would be pulled for inclusion in your debt-to-income ratio, but his FICO score wouldn’t be considered. If it’s a conventional loan, there are no credit implications of his being on the title even if you’re in a community property state. Hope this helps!

  7. Hello, My median Fico Score is 590. I was a stay at home mom for the last 4 years & currently have $8500 in new student loans (no payment required yet until I graduate.). My fiancee & I pay $300.00 rent to our parents with an inactivebank acct… I just paid $200.00 for a bank & utility bill that was placed as a chargeoff & placed in collections when I was ill 2 yrs ago. I do not have any more debt besides a 10yr old $4000 credit card judgement that is no longer on my credit report. I was approved 3 months ago for 2 prime credit cards with 1% utilization & good payment history. Can I get a mortgage loan for a 50k manufactured/modular home in Florida If I put down 10k, a 590 score, income from my job $960.00 a month and will lenders use my son 735.00 ssi check as income? I also plan to purchase a 6k land plot before I apply.

    My fiance score is too low for a loan due to medical bills. But his income is $1400 a month & currently in grad school with a consolidation loan of 40k in student loans. Will it be better to add him on to use him as my extra income or can I get a home alone?? My goal is to purchase land & modular home in the next 4 months.

    1. Hi Nix:

      There’s a lot there, so I’m ultimately going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. However, let me try to unpack some of this to give you some general information before you call in.

      The first thing I notice is your desire to purchase a manufactured/modular home. We offer financing on modular homes, but not manufactured ones. The major difference between the two is manufactured homes have a HUD tag and may or may not be on a chassis.

      Depending on how low your fiancé’s credit score is, you may not want him on the loan. Lenders use the lowest median credit score of all borrowers on the loan to determine qualification, so you may have to apply without him, but that means you can’t use his income.

      For the rest of this, it’ll help to talk to someone over the phone. You can get in touch with us at (888) 980-6716. I hope it helps!

  8. My husband and married for 9yrs I met him with a house he went and bought a house 1 yr now that’s where we are living now he wants a devrice he didn’t put my name on the loan now he tell his lawyer i did a quite claim deed which is not true do I have any say.

    1. Hi, Michelle. We’ll need some more information. I’m going to have a Home Loan Expert reach out with some additional questions. Thanks and have a good night.

    2. Hi Michelle:

      If you didn’t do a quitclaim, you do have a say and who gets the house can be decided in the divorce process. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I hope this helps a bit.

  9. I am married but my wife does not have 2 years tax returns for her business and will be left off the loan. I thought when we originally qualfied for our current mortgage our loan office only hit us with half of an auto we were both on, is this something that is possible? right now we have 2 auto loans for around $800 a month combined so is it possible to only count half of that against me?

    1. Hi Seth:

      This isn’t always the case, but there are certain circumstances in which car debt may not be counted against you for the purposes of your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts to go over your situation in greater detail. You can reach us at (888) 980-6716. Have a great day!

  10. My spouse is listed on somebody elses mortgage but she is not on the deed.
    It may come to the point of filing a petition/partition of sale to get her off the mortgage.
    If that does not work,
    Can I still buy a house and leave her off the paperwork?

    1. Hi David:

      You can do that. There’s the possibility that her debt would still be included if you were in a community property state and getting either an FHA or VA loan. You also have to consider that you were not be able to use her income to qualify. If you want to go over your options, I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Have a good night!

  11. Hi, my wife and I live in CA. We want to get a USDA loan but we make too much to qualify. If we used just my income we could qualify. Is that possible in CA?

    1. Hi Michael:

      Unfortunately, USDA loans consider the total income of all adults in the household, not just the mortgage applicants themselves, so just using your income in this case wouldn’t work for a USDA loan. However, if your household has more than four members (adults plus minors), you may be able to qualify for a USDA loan with slightly higher income. If you want to see if you’re eligible for this, you can check the USDA’s income eligibility page. For more information on USDA loans, check out our article. I hope this helps!

  12. Hi,
    My wife and I are looking to get an equity line to us for a down payment on a house.

    Here’s my situation:

    My current home is mortgaged in my fathers name, but my wife and I are on the deed.

    We have $150k of equity in our home.
    My credit score is 585
    My wife’s credit score is 640
    My annual income has been $300k for the last 5 years.
    My wife’s annual income is $60k.

    What would you suggest as our best option to get an equity line and then get financed for $350k after the 20% down payment.


    1. Hi Jeff:

      We don’t offer home equity lines at this time, but we do have cash-out refinances we could take a look at for you. You might be able to get a better rate by going that route. If you’re interested, I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps!

  13. Me and my husband file a 1099 because we work for same family owned business.. how can we buy a house in just my name .. how would they do the income part

    1. Hi Debbie:

      It may depend on whether you file jointly and there may be implications if you live in a community property state as well. I think the best way for you to get a definitive answer on this one would be to speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at(888) 980-6716. I hope this helps!


  14. My wife and I are interested in buying a home in Maryland. She just purchased a business, therefore she does not really show any income. We have decicded it would be better for me to apply for a loan by myself. Are all loan options available? In other words are there any that will look at her income ( or lack there of) and debt when considering me for a loan? I currently have very little debt. Do I have all options available? Specifically USDA or conventional loans? Thank you

    1. Hi Jerry:

      If you go with a USDA loan, you would have to include any that she had if you lived in a community property state. That’s also the case for an FHA or VA loan. With conventional loans, her debts would never have to be included as long as you applied alone. If you would like to go over your options online, you can do so through Rocket Mortgage. You can also get started over the phone by talking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  15. My husbands credit score is in the 520s. Mine is 599. I don’t work because I’m a stay at home mom, but he does. Making probably close to 3,000 a month. How would that work? We do have debt. But would be able to get a loan?

    1. Hi Jessica:

      You would need your husband to be on the loan because he makes the income for your family. However, he would need at least a 580 FICO score in order for us to be able to work with you. I’m going to suggest a few things. First, check out QLCredit. You will be able to get your free Vantagescore 3.0 credit report and score from TransUnion with some personalized tips on how you can improve. Second, we have this blog post which gives some great general credit tips. Finally, once you’ve done these things, feel free to reach out to one of Our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They may be able to help you get over the top to qualification by coming up with a plan. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  16. Hi, my fiance and I are looking to get married soon, however we were initially thinking that due to his poor credit that he is trying to rebuild , maybe I should buy a house first on my own before we are married since I have no debt and high credit score, then he move in later after we are married. This would be our first home. From reading this article it sounds like this may not be the best option since I may get a smaller loan using just my income. But then again, being that we live in Texas, a community property state, would we be hurting ourselves if we wait til we get married? Does living in Texas affect my ability to apply on my own after marriage or are you saying this is only if I list his name too? I’m unsure of the best route to take with buying our first home with Texas state laws.

    1. Hi Michelle:

      There are a few things here. You can always apply on your own, regardless of whether it’s a community property state. What changes is whether his debts are taken into account even if he’s not on the loan. If you’re married, his debts would be included either way if you’re getting an FHA, USDA or VA loan. At that point, the only reason to keep him off the loan is if his credit score was too low to qualify, which may or may not be the case. If you did keep him off the loan, you can’t use his income. On a conventional loan from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, his debts aren’t included. I’m going to recommend you talk to one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.


  17. My husband and I are looking into buying our first home. My credit score is significantly lower than his and I still have a lot of unpaid debt (with one in collections from my previous marriage) BUT I am the one with the greater income. Would it still be beneficial to have him apply for a home loan without me? He had no debt at all. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren:

      Depending on the type of loan you get, the collection may not need to be paid off. It will hurt your credit score to have something in collection though. Also, your debt-to-income ratio being high definitely doesn’t help. I’m going to suggest you talk to one of our Home Loan Experts who can look into your situation at a much deeper level. You can reach out to them at (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  18. Hi,
    My husband and I are ready to start planning to buy our first house. My husband makes $7,000 a month on his job 3.5 years and I make $4,500 a month on my job 1.5 years. We pay 2 car loan payments which adds to $1140 a month. I have three credit cards and so does my husband, total of 6 cards. 5 cards are paid in full and 1 with a very low balance. We just paid the cards off this month. Our credit scores are 554 and 560 due to the credit utilization. We are hoping the scores go up since we paid the credit cards off. We both have a personal loan for $6,000 each that we got a year ago and we pay $245.00 each in monthly payments. We both have student loans that are in deferment totaling 300k combined. Also i am in check systems for a missed payment on an old credit card from BofA in the amount of $165.00 which i just paid in full. So with all this info, Should we wait longer to try to buy? If so how long? What are our chances of getting approved in 4 months?

    1. Hi Candice:

      I’m not one of our Home Loan Experts, so I’m not in a position to comment on your approval prospects in the blog comments. With that being said, your credit scores are pretty close to where we would need them to be, so that’s one point in your favor. To help you with an FHA loan, we would need to see a 580 credit score. In order to qualify for that, your debt-to-income ratio also has to be in pretty good shape. I think your best next step would be to talk to one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They can help you with a realistic timeline and a game plan for giving you where you need to be.


  19. Hi, my husband and I are looking into buying our first home. I wanted to know each of our DTIs is looked at separately or if it is the total of all our debt and income as one figure. Thank you.

  20. My husband and i are trying to buy our 1st home. He has a credit score of 616 because he only has one credit card and he is close to his spending limit. He has nothing negative. I have a credit score of 460 because i have a debt from 5 years ago from the hospital. If we both apply how likely if is for us to get approve? He makes 1200 every 2 weeks and i only make 1000 a month

    1. Hi Cecelia:

      If you both apply, there’s no way that’s going to work. We take the lowest median credit score from all borrowers on the loan, so it’s the 460 score that would count. He could potentially get an FHA loan on his own, but you wouldn’t be able to use your income to qualify. There are a few things I’m going to suggest here.

      It would be good idea for both of you, together, to work on your credit to better your financial situation long-term. First, check out our friends at QLCredit. You can get your free VantageScore 3.0 credit score and report from TransUnion every two weeks. You can get personalized tips within the report on how to improve. We also have an article with some good general credit rebuilding tips. Finally, once you’ve done those other two things, you could reach out to one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They may be able to help you come up with a game plan to finally push your credit up to where it needs to be in the long run.

  21. I’m in a weird situation. My exhusband and I own a home and in the divorce he got it but I can’t get my name off the loan because he can’t refi. My new husband and I need to buy a home what can I do?

    1. My only suggestion would be to try and reach out to the lender on your home with your husband and see if there’s anything they can do to get you up the loan even if it’s not a full refi. It’s a very difficult situation if you don’t get off.


  22. My husband and I are looking into buying our first house. He has a good income and zero debt, while I have a very low income and high student loan debt. Each of our credit scores are 750+ , but I’m worried that my debt-to-income ratio will ultimately hinder us. Is it possible to get multiple pre-approvals, some with me on the mortgage and some without, to see which option works best?

    1. Hi Kari:

      I’m going to recommend the two of you talk about your options with one of our Home Loan Experts. They would be able to discuss the best option for you moving forward. You can get in touch with them at (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  23. Is it true that since CA is a community state, no matter what loan program I’m reviewed for, my spouse’s debts have to be included? Or is that only for FHA and VA loans?

  24. my husband and I have been married for a little over 3 years and my credit is very poor, so could we still get approved for a house just going through him and leaving me off of it? if so where is the best place for us to get a home loan at? we live in Missouri.

    1. Hi Cassie:

      It’s certainly possible to have just your husband apply. The thing to be aware of is that you’ll qualify for a less expensive home because you’re only using his income in that case. That said, if you would like to apply, the two of you can look into your options and get a preapproval online through Rocket Mortgage or call one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.


  25. If I get approved for a home in Ohio without my wife on the loan but lending wants a joint open auto off my credit and my wife refinances the vehicle Into just her name will that cause any problems?

    1. Ohio isn’t a community property state, so if your wife is able to successfully refinance the vehicle into just her name, it wouldn’t be counted in your debt-to-income ratio. Hope this helps!

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