The answer to your question depends on several factors including where you live and where the property is located but generally speaking, you should be able to qualify for a mortgage and buy a home in your name only even though you are married.
The first step is to qualify for the mortgage as a sole applicant based on your monthly gross income, credit score, down payment, employment history, financial reserves and other factors. In short, you need to earn enough money to afford the monthly mortgage payment and repay the loan on your own.
The guidelines for qualifying for a mortgage as a married sole applicant vary depending on where you live and your mortgage program. When you apply for a conventional mortgage, lenders only consider your income, financial and credit information and exclude the non-borrower spouse's debt payments and credit history when they evaluate your mortgage application. This means it may be easier to qualify for a conventional mortgage as a married sole borrower as compared to other types of mortgage programs.
For FHA, VA or USDA mortgages, if you live in or if the property being financed is located in a community property state, then lenders include your spouse's monthly debt payments in your debt-to-income ratio, unless specifically excluded by state law, even though he or she is not on the mortgage. In this case lenders also usually review your spouse’s credit history but any derogatory events on her or his credit report do not impact your ability to qualify for the mortgage.
Use ourMORTGAGE QUALIFICATION CALCULATORto determine the loan you qualify for as a sole borrower
Additionally, regardless of where you live or your mortgage program, all monthly payments on debts or loans you hold jointly with your spouse are included in your debt-to-income ratio. Including your joint and your spouse’s personal (depending on your loan program and where you live) debt payments in your loan application without including any income from your spouse makes it more challenging to qualify for a mortgage and may reduce the loan amount you can afford as a sole applicant.
Please note that if you do not live in or the property is not located in a community property state, then lenders should not consider your spouse’s debt or credit history. In this scenario the lender includes your monthly income, individual debt expenses and joint debt expenses in your mortgage application but excludes your spouse’s income and personal debt expenses. This is why it may be easier to get approved for a mortgage on your own if you are married in a non-community property state.
Because some lenders are unfamiliar with the guidelines that apply to a married person applying for a mortgage as a sole borrower, we recommend that you contact multiple lenders in the table below to find ones that have experience in this area. Shopping lenders is also the best way to save money on your mortgage.
We should highlight that getting a mortgage in your name only is different than owning a property in your name only. If do not live in a community property state, you can own a home solely in your name. In this case, you can hold sole title and be listed as the sole property owner on the grant deed without submitting additional paperwork to the lender or county recorder office.
If you do live in a community property state, lenders typically require that the spouse who is not on the mortgage to submit a document that conveys property ownership rights to the spouse who is on the mortgage.
The non-borrower spouse is usually required to file a quitclaim deed that transfers his or her ownership interest in the property to the sole borrower who will own the property outright. When the mortgage closes, the quitclaim deed is filed with the county recorder office along with the grant deed showing sole title ownership of the property by the borrower spouse.
We should also emphasize that it is illegal for mortgage lenders to discriminate against applicants on the basis of marital status, race, age, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. If you feel like you are being discriminated against due to one of these factors we recommend that you contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), your state attorney general’s office or a real estate attorney.
CFPB Contact Information
The CFPB or your state attorney general may may be able to offer free assistance and a real estate attorney may be able to provide additional legal guidance.
Finally, we are not lawyers and do not provide legal advice but some states are equitable distribution states which means that marital property must be divided "equitably" in the event of a divorce. In short, marital property is defined as property acquired during the course of the marriage regardless of which spouse owns the property or how ownership title to the property is held.
So in the event of a divorce or termination of a marriage, a spouse in these states may have a legal claim to marital property even if he or she has no ownership interest in the property. We highly recommend that you contact a real estate or family law attorney to review these issues if they are applicable to you.
"II.A.4.b.iv.(F). Non-Borrowing Spouse Debt in Community Property States (TOTAL)." FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1. Federal Housing Administration, January 2 2020. Web.
"Chapter 4.5.a. Verification Requirements for Debts and Obligations." Lenders Handbook - VA Pamphlet 26-7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2020. Web.
"Chapter 11.2.B. Debts of a non-purchasing spouse (NPS)." Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program Technical Handbook. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020. Web.« Return to Q&A Home About the author