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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. My wife and I bought our first home together a couple of years ago. At that time she was making a lot more than me. Her name is first on the mortgage. We are now considering buying an investment property and would like to know if I apply for the mortgage on my own whether only half of the monthly mortgage payment will be counted in my expenses. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ty! I’ve passed your comment on to our team of licensed mortgage professionals who will reach out to you shortly to discuss your situation.

  2. I have a question. My husband and I are in the process of getting pre-approved for a home loan. We currently reside in Texas, which is where my husband works…but are looking to purchase a home in Michigan. My husband is the main source of income and he completed the application for the mortgage. Long story short, we got pre-approved yesterday and today the person called and said that the underwriter would not let it go through because the house in Michigan would not be my husband’s “primary” address. My question is…we are MARRIED…my husband only WORKS in Texas…his “primary” address would be in Michigan NOT Texas. Please explain how the FHA Loan requirement works. I read that if you are married; only ONE spouse is required to live in the residence. Please advise.

  3. I live in California, I’m married but want to buy a home without my source. I was told I’d qualify for 250k as my IDR was kinda high. I was also told that I had to go conventional as I would not qualify for a FHA loan. I’ve lowered my IDR and now feel I qualify for more. Am I to believe that I can go conventional only. I don’t think this is true.

  4. My soon to be ex-husband bought the house we lived in 2 years before we were married. I only lived there 1.5 years after we were married, have been separated almost 3 years but not legally separated. Am I entitled to anything even though i’m not on the deed to the house?

  5. My boyfriend an i are looking to apply for the first time home buyer program in florida is us not being married gonna affect our qualification.

  6. Hi…My husband and I are trying to get a mortgage loan. My DTI is very high because of my student loans. We are able to get that deferred to complete the mortgage loan. This will end on June 15th 2015 so after that the deferment won’t count. Do you think it’s best to move forward even if I am unable to pay on my student loans? Do you think they can use our house as an asset to pay the debt I owe? Also, we filed single on our taxes (first time filing on our own, someone told us to do this) so does this matter that we didn’t file together as married? He makes about 45k a year..This includes commission that will not be accounted for until 2 years with the company. After that 2 year mark do you think he will qualify for at least 150k mortgage loan?

  7. Hi – We are looking for a mortgage however, my wife doesn’t work and I have 3 kids as well. Can I just apply for mortgage and don’t declare that I am married as lots of Lenders are giving me very low amount such as £50k as they say I have 3 dependants. Can I apply just on my name and not declare my wife.

  8. My husband and I recently purchased a house. He is the only one on the mortgage but it just showed up on my credit report. Will the mortgage be on both of our credit since we are married? Also, if that is the case are both our scores affected in the same manner (will both go up with good payment history, etc.)?

    1. Hi Bethany! I’ve passed your comment on to our team of mortgage professionals who will look into your specific situation.

  9. My husband has a low credit score and previous debts, as well as an unsteady work history. I have moderate credit in the 600’s with steady work history. I know it would make sense to keep him off of the loan when applying, but is it possible to add him on in the future?

    1. Hi Valerie! I’ve passed your question on to out mortgage experts who will look into this and reach out to you soon.

  10. I’m married and interesting in becoming a homeowner within the next 3 months.
    My income and credit is decent. However, my husband’s credit is horrible but his income is decent. Both incomes together we make approx. $70k per year. My score is about 600, his is in the high 400’s.. I would rather get the loan alone. Wondering if that’s possible without his income or debt being considered. We live in St Louis, Mo.
    thanks

  11. I’m in Puerto Rico plan to buy a property in Florida, I’m separated for more than two years and
    I don’t know where she is. In my tax returns i file always as separated. will apply for a loan in Florida. My realtor explained to me about “owner occupied, second home and investment” which one i can apply that don’t need to find or my separated wife don’t need to be present or sign at closing a.
    Thanks

  12. My husband and i have a lot of student loan debt. We have been told that we wont qualify for a loan because our debt to income ratio is too high. Do all mortgage companies factor 1% as a monthly payment even if our payments are actually $0 a month under income based repayment.
    We live in idaho. If we sign with just one name will they count federal student loans for both of us as well?

    1. Hi Angelica! Thanks for reaching out. I’ve passed your commune ton to our team or mortgages professionals who will reach out soon.

  13. I have a significant amount of student loans and I am not working. My credit is credit score is also low and will not qualify for a home loan. However, I am married and my husband and I are wondering if it best to just file divorce then buy home in his name solely as a single person and then we can remarry? I know this sounds drastic, but I was told they would still count my debts even if I was left off the loan because we live in a community property state? Another question, we are filing taxes joint this year but if we do divorce, is having filed joint going to affect getting the house in my husbands name when they ask for tax returns and see that we filed joint?

    1. Hi Jayme! Thanks for reaching out. I’ve passed your comment on to our team of licensed mortgage experts. They will reach out to you soon, and can give you more information about your specific situation.

  14. My husband would be a first time buyer and we want to have our next home in his name only due to first time incentive programs. Also our current mortgage in my name is behind. As he is applying, they are asking for my info as well. We live in MA. Does he have to provide this even if I’m not going to be on the loan? Will they look at my financials regardless. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jane! I’ve passed on your comment to our licensed mortgage professionals. They’ll reach out to you soon and can look into your specific situation.

  15. I filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy after a divorce several years ago. The home that I lived in with my ex spouse was included but he still lives there so it was not foreclosed on, it just kept me from being responsible for the debt since he refused to refinance…now I am ready to get remarried But my fiancée filed chaoter 13 and was discharged just a few months ago…he included his house and from what we have been told he can’t buy a home for 3 years after discharge due to this….we want to get married but need a home and are afraid if we get married his 3 years wait time will apply to me as well…and we do live in louisiana a community property state. What should we do?

    1. Hi Brandy! Thanks for reaching out to us. I’ve passed your comment on to our team of mortgage professionals who will reach out to you to talk about your situation.

  16. we and my spouse both filed chapter 13 bankruptcy and have been discharged, the home we live in is just in my name I had already purchased years before we were married and this house was included in the bankruptcy but i was able to do a refi while in the chapter 13. If in the future if my husband wants to buy a house just using his credit score because he has a higher score than me right now would he be able too since the house we live is just in my name his name is on absolutely nothing.
    Thanks

  17. I recently got married and we always knew that we would have to use my credit for a better rate because of his bad credit. He bousght a house at a young age and had some hard times making payments on time. However,my credit alone is not going to give us as much of a loan to get the kind of house we want. Can I apply for a mortgage alone, but have him listed as a source of income? Will that show the lender that I will be able to afford a higher mortgage?
    thx, Portia

    1. Hey Portia! There are several factors that come into play here. I’ve passed your comment on to one of our licensed mortgage experts who can give more information on your specific situation. They’ll be reaching out soon.

  18. My question is recently my husband bought a house he stated that the loaner didn’t want me on the loan or appear on the title since I don’t work. So he made me sign a paper where it said I have no part of it. Is it true or he just didn’t want me to have any ownership on the house

  19. My husband signed like he was single instead of married when he boughtook our house. He tried to get it before the wedding but it was delayed and he signed a week after as single. Is this legal?

    1. Hi Lynn! Our licensed mortgage professionals will be reaching out to you soon, to talk about this in more detail. Let us know if you have any questions in the meantime.

  20. I won’t be on the mortgage loan, because of credit. Does this mean that we can divide our bills in half so my husbands debt to income ratio is at a better percent?. Since they can’t/won’t use my income, then they should take 1/2 the bills away, right?!

  21. If both my husband and I have excellent credit but he makes twice what I do and I just started a new job in the last 3 months, would we be better off if I was left off the mortgage? We both have a low debt ratio.

    1. Hi Casey! Thanks for asking. There are a few other things to factor in, so I passed your comment on to one of our licensed mortgage experts who will contact you soon. Have a great day!

  22. Please excuse my previous e-mail. My daughters husband bought a house before they married. He has developed cancer and they cannot afford the payments. If he lets the bank take the house will it affect my daughters credit. Her name is not on any of the paper work

  23. My daughters husband owned a home before we married. It is in his name only. He has developed cancer and cannot work. We cannot afford the payments. If we let the house go back will it affect my credit?

  24. I live in a community property state. My wife had filed for bankruptcy and I was afraid I might not be able to qualify. I had to qualify on just my income. But quicken loans made it happen! So don’t be discouraged if you’re in a similar situation.

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