If you are a married couple buying a house under one name, there are some pros and cons you should consider. You can buy a house without your partner. In fact, in some cases, there are advantages to buying your home that way.

  • Do you or your spouse have bad credit?
  • How much income do you have together?
  • How much debt do you have?

Make sure you understand how much house you can afford as a couple and an individual but also think about how your credit scores will affect your interest rate for your loan. You will then be able to make an informed decision about how to finance your new home.

Ability to Alone

You can buy a house under one name, and most of the time couples do this because one partner’s credit is bad. However, there are advantages to joint mortgages.

  • Greater borrowing power
  • Shared responsibility for loan repayment
  • Title and deeds will not be joint

You should carefully consider the pros and cons of buying a house under only one partner’s name. Remember that the biggest consideration is that only the mate who takes out the loan will be on the deed and title.1

Spouse on Deed

Your spouse must be on the deed if you apply for a joint mortgage, because the mortgage company will require whoever is borrowing money to be on the title and deed. On the other hand, if you get a loan without your partner then only your name will be on the title and deed.

Buy Without Spouse

You can buy a house without your spouse, but do you want to? Here are some things to consider about buying a house without your mate:

  • Your partner has a low credit score
  • Your spouse doesn’t meet income requirements
  • You will probably qualify for a lower loan amount
  • You can still use money from joint accounts for underwriting
  • Your mortgage company may still look at your mate’s debt

This is a major decision and there may be pros and cons to each possibility. It is important to learn all your options. This likely will be the biggest and most important purchase of your life.2

First-Time Buyer

Your wife can buy a house as a first-time home buyer, but it is usually easier to apply as a couple for one of the first-time home buyer programs. In addition, there are two important considerations about only your wife applying for the loan:

  • Since the loan is only in her name, the mortgage company will insist that the title is only in her name
  • If you live in a community property state, then your wife will be responsible for all the debt but only half of the ownership

While it is possible for your wife to qualify for a first-time home buyer program on her own it may or may not be the best decision for you. Make sure that you speak with a professional that you trust about all your options and the positive and negatives for each possibility.3

Both Spouses on FHA

An FHA loan does not necessarily require both spouses apply. But in some states, banks will require both partners to sign FHA loan paperwork. In states where both partners must sign:

  • To acknowledge that the spouse has no claim on the property
  • To acknowledge that the mate is not a borrower
  • To determine qualifying rations. The partner’s debt must be considered when determining debt to equity ratios

FHA loan rules dictate that bad credit reports on the non-purchasing spouse can’t be used to deny an FHA mortgage to the borrower. This requirement only applies to first liens. So, for other situations the non-borrowing mate does not need to sign loan documents. Finally, non-borrowing mates do not get title to the property bought with an FHA home loan once the loan is paid.4

Both Spouses on Mortgage

Whether both spouses should be on the mortgage depends on your financial situation. Here are a few basic questions you should ask to help you make a good decision.

  • What are both of your credit scores?
  • What is your combined debt-to-income ratio?
  • Which credit score is higher?

Answering these questions will help you get a clearer picture of your credit situation. It will help you decide if one mate should apply for the mortgage or if it is better for both of you to apply jointly.5

Apply Jointly

It depends on your financial situation whether it is better for you to apply for a mortgage jointly. Here some guidelines which may help.

  • If you both have significant income
  • If you both have similar credit scores

One spouse having bad credit is the main reason not to file for a mortgage jointly. If you have similar credit you will be able to get a higher loan, because banks will consider your combined income. In most cases it is better to apply for your mortgage together.5

Drawbacks

There are drawbacks to only one spouse getting a mortgage, and you should think about these before you decide.

  • Your partner can borrow against the equity without your consent or even knowledge
  • Your mate can sell the property without your consent
  • Your spouse can bequeath the property to someone else

While there are advantages in some cases, there are also considerable disadvantages to not signing a joint mortgage if you are married. If you are the mate who is not on the mortgage or title, then you have very little rights to the property.6

References

  1. SFGate
  2. Zing
  3. SFGate
  4. FHA Loan Articles
  5. Clark 
  6. Homeownering