Issues Relating to One Spouse Qualifying For A Loan On Their Own
"I am married but want to refinance my house only in my name. What do I have to do?"This is actually pretty easy, and there are at least two ways to potentially accomplish this, depending upon lender policy and the law in your area.
Most lenders policies require the property to be titled in a compatible manner to the loan. Some few do allow the spouse to be on title and not a party to the loan, in which case they will be required to sign the Trust Deed, although not the Note. Most lenders, however, will require that if you are the only one on the loan, the property be titled in your name exclusively. So your spouse will be required to sign a quitclaim to "Jenny Jones, a married woman as her sole and separate property" (Or "John Jones, a married man as his sole and separate property). If you don't like the title being this way, that's fine and don't sweat it. You can quitclaim it back to "John and Jenny Jones, husband and wife as joint tenants with rights of survivorship" as soon as the loan records. What matters is that the people agreeing to the loan, as of the moment the Trust Deed comes into effect, is reflected in the official title of the property.
For those intelligent individuals whose property is in living trusts, this is also a common feature of getting a loan on the property. The lender will usually require it be quit-claimed from "John and Jenny Jones, trustees of the Jones Family Living Trust" to either the sole individual who qualified for the loan, as in the previous paragraph, or to "John and Jenny Jones, husband and wife as joint tenants with rights of survivorship."
All of that is the easy part. Now comes the hard part. If one spouse wants to be the only one on the loan, then they must qualify on their own. Only their income may be used. However, since most debts in a marriage are in the names of both partners, typically they are going to going to be charged for most debts on their qualification sheets. This really is no big deal if that particular spouse is earning all of the money anyway, but in most cases these days, both spouses are working, and they want to buy the biggest home they can, so it can be difficult to qualify them for that home based upon the income of only one spouse. Here's a typical scenario: He makes $5600 per month, she makes $5000. They have two $400 per month car payments and $120 per month in credit card minimum payments. But he has rotten credit, so they are hoping to secure a loan on better terms. By A paper full documentation guidelines, she only qualifies for a PITI payment of $1330 ($5000 times 45%, minus $920), which might get a one bedroom condo in a not so hot area of town. So then they have to go stated income in order to qualify for the loan on the home they really want. As a couple they qualify for payments of $3850 ($10,600 times 45%, minus $920), which will get a decent single family residence in an okay area of town. You, the readers, can guess which of the two properties the average couple in this situation is going to shop for. Unfortunately, many times her profession is not one where the lender will believes she makes twice what she really does without verification. This is a real issue, especially if they went and got a prequalification from someone who figured both of their incomes in the equation, so here they are with a purchase agreement and they can't qualify like they thought they could. This is one reason I've learned never to trust someone else's prequalification of a buyer, because in this situation, the only way to make it happen is to put John, with his rotten credit, on the loan. Because he makes more money than Jenny, he will be the primary borrower, and so the loan will be based upon John's bad credit history, not Jenny's above average FICO. There are ways to potentially get around this, but sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, at least in the sense of getting John and Jenny a better rate on their loan, or of qualifying them to get a loan at all. Better to get John's credit score up where he will qualify for a good loan beforehand, of course, but usually these folks want a loan now so they can get this home they've already signed a purchase contract on. The ability to improve credit scores in a short period of time is limited, and it's even more limited if John and Jenny are short on cash, which is usually the case.
These can all be issues with the spouse who makes less money, also. Reverse the incomes, so that John, with his bad credit, makes $5000 per month and Jenny, with her good credit, makes $5600. So at least Jenny is primary on the loan, now, but most people are not in professions where the lender will believe they make almost twice what they really do, so stated income A paper doesn't fly, and John and Jenny have to go sub-prime because if you put him on the loan, both spouses must qualify A paper and John doesn't. Sub-prime means higher rates and a pre-payment penalty, unless you buy off the prepayment penalty with an even higher rate.
Now, in point of fact many borrowers these days are ones that have settled upon a property before they even considered a loan, and are determined to get that property no matter what they have to do. Alternatively, they may have talked to someone about loans who gave them a budget which was in fact accurate, but they liked this property so much that they are utterly ignoring that budget. Such people are going to end up with bad loans. They want more house than they can really afford, and they want it now. I can get the loan for them, any competent loan officer can get it for them, but there will be consequences down the road, because there are still those pesky payments they have to make (or negative amortization that builds up. Or both). A loan you cannot afford is a course for disaster, and the longer you're on it, the worse the disaster gets.
But so long as a couple is qualifying for a loan where they really can make the payments, it's all okay. The one thing that bites a fair number of people is divorce, where one ex-spouse figures that because he (or she) qualified all by themselves so they should be able to make the payments all by themselves. But the loan officer used stated income without telling them, and once that other income is gone, it turns out that they can't make the payments. Not only can they not make the payments, they cannot qualify to refinance now. Typically, most people live in denial about this for way too long, ruining their credit to where they can no longer qualify for the loan on the lesser property they would have been able to get if they had done the smart thing in the first place.
So one spouse qualifying for a loan on their own has some real issues to be aware of, and that will turn and bite you if you're not careful enough.
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