Thank you for your question about ways to remove a name from an existing mortgage.
Refinancing is the Primary Method of Changing the Names on the Mortgage
The situation you describe is one faced by many divorcing couples, especially with the downturn in the housing market which has made refinancing much more difficult for many consumers. There are four options to remove liability for a co-signed or joint loan:
- Refinance the loan and not include a party in the refinance.
- Sell the property in question, which will extinguish the loan liability, unless there is deficiency balance.
- File for chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Allow a strategic default. However, all parties on the loan will be responsible for any deficiency balance.
A quit-claim deed removes a party’s interest in the property by changing the name(s) on the title. However, executing a quit-claim deed does not eliminate a co-borrower's financial or legal liability for the loan. The property’s title is separate from any mortgage or deed in trust that encumbers the property.
Reasons the Lender Does Not Want to Remove Someone from a Mortgage
Your lender is unlikely to remove your name from the loan voluntarily. Mortgage contracts are written to make it difficult or impossible for the parties to change the terms or conditions. Why? The mortgage originator estimated the risk for the loan based on, in the case of a joint mortgage, both borrowers’ credit scores, incomes, and debt-to-income ratios. With only one person responsible for the loan, the lender is in a riskier position.
The fact that you owe more on the home than it is worth makes it even less likely the lender would remove your name from the note, as the lack of equity increases the probability that you and your ex-spouse will default on the mortgage. Even though your ex-spouse may have every intention of keeping the loan current, the lender will want as many people as possible liable for the loan so that it has a higher chance of collecting on any deficiency balance that results in case of default and foreclosure.
Shop Around for a Loan
While your current lender may not be willing to refinance your loan, you may be able to find another bank willing to lend you the funds needed to refinance. Finding a loan in today’s market can be difficult, especially if your ex-spouse has had any credit problems in the past. His or her credit is what’s important since your spouse is the one who will be applying for the refinance loan. However, contact several lenders to discuss your situation and find out what options, if any, they offer.
It is unlikely you will find a lender willing to lend you more than the home is worth. Because you are upside-down on your current mortgage, you may need a large down payment available in order to obtain a refinance loan. In addition, you will need to compare the terms of your current loan with those of any refinance offered to make sure that the new terms are competitive with those of your previous loan. To learn more about refinance loans, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com home refinance page.
Tough to Refinance
As I mentioned, finding an affordable refinance loan may be an uphill battle given the current state of the U.S. economy and housing market. Barring your current lender agreeing to voluntarily remove your name from your and your ex-spouse’s current loan, the best thing for you to do may be to leave your name on the mortgage for the time being. Once the housing market recovers from its current depressed state, your home’s value should increase, hopefully providing you with enough equity to refinance the home at a more favorable rate without the need of a large down payment.
If your ex-spouse makes the payments on time each month, having your name on the mortgage will improve your credit rating, allowing you to begin establishing your own credit accounts and thus building credit independent of your ex-spouse. If possible, have your ex-spouse keep records that prove he or she makes the mortgage payment alone. That way, you increase your chances of not having the mortgage payment counted as part of your monthly obligations when you go to qualify for a loan of your own.
There is no clear solution beyond a refinance loan, which may be out of reach at this point. Even if you are not able to remove you name from the loan, this mortgage should not cause you any problems as long as your ex-spouse continues making the monthly payments on time.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.