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Mortgage When My Spouse Has Bad Credit

Mortgage When My Spouse Has Bad Credit
Mark Cappel
UpdatedOct 7, 2007
Key Takeaways:
  • Review how to apply for a mortgage when your spouse has bad credit.
  • Understand how debt to income ratio affects qualifying for a mortgage.
  • Examine how a credit score is determined.

I am married, have a good credit score, and my spouse has bad credit. Can I apply for a mortgage on my own?

I have been married for about one year and we want to buy a condo, but my spouse has bad credit that will hold us back on a good loan. My credit is good. Can I apply for a loan on my own, for the purpose of buying a house as a married person? I would need to borrow about $250,000. I am a teacher (15 years).

The quick answer is: Yes! You need not apply for a joint mortgage with your spouse.

Generally speaking, if you and your spouse apply for a loan jointly, the lender will look at your combined income, combined debt-to-income (dti),and both of your credit scores. If your spouse does not have income, or you do not need his or her income to qualify, then you may apply for a loan without him or her.

Banks want four things in a perfect borrower:

  1. stable income — 2 years or more
  2. attractive credit history — a high credit score and few mishaps
  3. low debt-to-income ratio — the less debt you have the better
  4. a down payment — a minimum of 3.5%, but more is better

If a potential borrower lacks in any one (or more) of these, the potential borrower find qualifying for a loan difficult.

Work with a broker and see what mortgages you qualify for. Download a uniform residential loan application (form 1003), complete it using only your income and credit. Then, complete a second form 1003 with both your income and the income of your spouse. Finally, start shopping. Get mortgage quotes from up to four pre-screened lenders from

Reasons to apply for a joint mortgage

If your low-credit-score spouse makes a high income, there is a chance his or her income would improve your dti ratio and thus increase your likelihood of obtaining a loan despite the low credit score.

Some spouses feel more secure in a property where their name is on the lease or mortgage. When both spouses are on a mortgage and one spouse dies, the other can assume the mortgage and depending on how the property is titled, the surviving spouse will have 100% ownership of the property without it going through the probate process.

There are legal tools available that bring a non-signatory spouse to the same place legally. Regarding the death of the mortgaged spouse, the ownership of the property can be handled with a will or trust. Life insurance can pay the mortgage if the signatory spouse dies.

Reasons to not apply for a joint mortgage

However, if you apply for a mortgage on your own, you solely carry the burden of that mortgage obligation. If you default you alone have liability. this can be a positive or negative depending on your perspective. Let us assume your spouse rebuilds his or her credit score. Let us assume you and your spouse encounter unexpected financial difficulty, and become delinquent on the mortgage, or allow a foreclosure. Your credit score will take the fall, while your spouse becomes a credit score lifeboat that allows you two to continue to find credit.

Or let us assume an equally dire circumstance where you and your spouse decide to divorce. Usually one spouse will want to stay the marital property. In that case, there is is a 50-50 chance the spouse who has the property in his or her name alone will keep the status quo on the mortgage and title. If the mortgage is jointly held there is a 100% chance the mortgage will need to be refinanced to remove the non-occupying ex-spouse from the mortgage. For these two reasons i recommend that if spouses, partners, friends, or family members who wish to occupy a house together can afford to do so they put the property in one person’s name only.


First, a competent mortgage loan officer will explain how to qualify for a mortgage. a great loan officer will help you find the best loan for your needs. Visit the mortgage savings center to get no-cost quotes from up to five pre-screened lenders.

Second, if you have a high credit score and your spouse does not, do not to add yourself to your spouse’s credit cards. Add your spouse to your cards as an authorized user, which will help pull their credit score up. the spouse with poor credit should pay off any delinquent cards or accounts as quickly as possible and negotiate a pay for delete to remove these harmful accounts from their credit report.

Third, it might be important to understand how a credit score is calculated. A credit rating is based on several variables, including:

  • payment history (do you have any late payments, charge-offs, etc.)
  • the amount and type of debt owed
  • any maxed-out trade lines
  • several secondary factors including length of credit history and how many recent inquiries have been made on a credit history.

Paying down maxed-out trade-lines will almost always boost a credit score. If you would like more information, please visit the credit resource page.

Finally, spend a few minutes to learn if a no-cost mortgage is right for your situation.

I hope this information helps you find. learn & save.




NNikki, May, 2023
I was told in the state of Georgia I could use my income and credit and add my husband's income to my application to buy a home, is the true. My husband credit is not ready to addon the mortgage application. Can I get an answer as soon as possible please. I just found an house an the realtor is encouraging me to put in a bid Asap, it's seems to be a good deal. I want to know my options.
BBetsalel Cohen, Jul, 2023
Hello Nikki, I apologize for the delay. Yes, it is possible to get a mortgage with a non-borrowing spouse. Some programs allow for this scenario, including in Georgia, such as a FHA loan. The lender will include the income and debt to calculate the debt-to-income ratio. That means that they will look at the credit report. However, they generally will not look at credit scores for the non-borrowing spouse. Since this is general information, I recommend contacting online lenders, a local bank or credit union, or a mortgage broker. It is recommended that you get pre-approved before bidding on a home.
JJasmine Rios, Dec, 2022
I have a good credit score but am unemployed, my husband has a bad credit score but has a good income. Is there anyway to use my credit score and his income to try and qualify for a house?
JJennifer, Jan, 2023
Did you ever get a good answer on this? I am in the same boat. I need to know whether to try and get a mortgage on my own, (I'm on disability & have a high dti.) His credit stinks but he has a good, steady income. Both of our incomes together are still in between the low & moderate range, in searching for Down Payment assistance programs. I'm in Florida, so I know it's not a common law state, which some websites are saying it is possible to use his income, but not be on the loan, while other say the opposite!
oode, May, 2014
My husband and I both own homes (with mortgages <20% equity). We are looking to purchase a house together. My credit is great, his is fair. Currently we live in my home, and rent his (it has been rented for 1.5 years). I am the breadwinner, but he does have some income. In our situation, it may be best for me to qualify for a mortgage on my own. We file taxes jointly and I am currently working with a lender that is checking if we have to claim the loss from our schedule e (for his house) if I am the sole borrower. Is that possible?
BBill, Jun, 2014
Shop around and ask lenders if you qualify alone. One spouse on a mortgage and title usually causes fewer problems down the road.
KKristin, May, 2014
My husband has substantial debt through his student loans. I want to buy the house by myself. If his loans default, can debt collectors take the home since we are married? Or will they have no right to it?
BBill, May, 2014
You indicated you reside in New Jersey. If the house you plan to buy is in New Jersey, then it is likely New Jersey collection laws will apply should your spouse default on the student loans.

See the article New Jersey Collection Laws to learn more about the laws that apply, in particular the section "New Jersey Spousal Debt Liability." Please ask any follow-up questions you may have on that page.