Mortgage  Question?
Does Spouse With Poor Credit Affect Qualify Mortgage?

My spouse has a low credit score and is currently unemployed but starts a new job in a month. We are looking to buy a home. I want him on the property title and mortgage but does that hurt our ability to qualify for the mortgage?

Harry Jensen, Trusted Mortgage Expert with 45+ Years of Experience
, Trusted Mortgage Expert with 45+ Years of Experience

Your spouse's low credit score and unemployment status will undermine your ability to qualify for a mortgage (unemployment income is not counted when you apply for a mortgage). When two people apply for a mortgage as co-applicants, the lender typically uses the lower credit score between the two applicants. The lower the credit score used by the lender, the higher the mortgage rate you pay. Additionally, a very low credit score may prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage. We provide a thorough overview of the credit score required for a mortgage and also cover other borrower mortgage qualification requirements on FREEandCLEAR.

So one option is to buy the home on your own as a sole owner. The challenge with this approach is if someone is not listed on the offer to purchase or property title, that person cannot be a co-borrower on the mortgage. If your spouse is not on the property title or the mortgage, you would be the sole property owner and the sole borrower for the mortgage. This also means that you would be required to qualify for the mortgage to purchase the home solely based on your monthly gross income, debt expenses and credit profile.

Please note that it is possible to add your spouse to the property title after the home purchase closes through a quit claim deed but this does not change the mortgage and you would still be the only borrower and solely financially responsible for the mortgage. In order to add your spouse to the mortgage you would need to wait six-to-twelve months and refinance the mortgage as co-borrowers. There is no way to change who is legally responsible for a mortgage unless you refinance.

One possible approach is to wait until your spouse has been working at his new job for at least a month before you apply for the mortgage. If your spouse has an extensive employment history, most lenders should only require pay stubs for one month to include his income when you apply for the mortgage, assuming his income is salary-based and not commission-based. The issues with this approach are that it does not change your spouse's low credit score and you may not have time to wait to close the home purchase, depending on the length of your escrow.

My best recommendation is that you contact multiple lenders and get pre-approved for your mortgage. You can review your situation with lenders to determine the best approach for you and your spouse.   A capable lender can help you weigh your options based on your and your spouse's employment status and credit profile.  You can review lenders in your area by clicking INTEREST RATES We advise you to contact at least four lenders as qualification guidelines vary. Plus, shopping lenders is the best way to save money on your mortgage.

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About the author

Harry Jensen, Mortgage Expert

Harry is the co-founder of FREEandCLEAR. He is a mortgage expert with over 45 years of industry experience. Over his career, Harry has closed thousands of loans for satisfied borrowers and now offers his advice and insights on FREEandCLEAR.  Harry is a licensed mortgage professional (NMLS #236752). More about Harry

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