Mortgage Laws

Highlights

  • You need a lawyer to buy property in many east coast states.
  • Some states give both spouses rights to property automatically.
  • Why it matters if your state uses mortgages or deeds of trust.
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/5.0
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Both Spouses Must Sign Mortgage or Refinance In Some States

Home loans are complicated.

Each state has its own home loan rules and property laws. Bills.com put this page together to help give you an idea what to expect when you buy a home or refinance a loan.

This page helps you understand what to expect when you buy a home or refinance a home loan in your state. Learn if your state requires:

  • Your spouse to sign anything when you get a purchase loan or mortgage refinance
  • If you need to hire a lawyer to advise you at closing
  • How much of your home’s value is protected from creditors
  • If you reside in community property state, and what it means if you are
  • Where to learn more about your state’s home loan rules

This quick guide will help answer your important questions about your state’s mortgage laws.

Quick Tip
offered a good deal on your home purchase or refinance loan? shopping is the only way to make sure the rates and terms you’re are competitive. . take a couple of minutes to see if you’re getting a good deal.

Some words and phrases we use might be new to you. We define them below the table. Ask any questions you might have about mortgages at the bottom of the page.

  Community Property Homestead Exemption Spouse Signature Special Closing Rules Mortgage or Deed of Trust State Laws
State-By-State Mortgage Laws. Source: Bills.com
Alabama   $5,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of Ala. automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) Ala. § 40-22-2 & § 6-10-2 to 3 & § 6-10-20 & 35-4-29
Alaska Optional. Spouses may opt-in to create CP estate. $70,200 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of AK automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable. Only one spouse need sign with no CP opt-in. Lender may require "waiver of Homestead Rights." Deed of Trust Alaska Title 34 Chapter 20 & § 09.38.010 (a)
Arizona Yes. Joinder of both spouses is required to purchase community real property up to $150,000 Spouse not on loan must sign Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32 & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Both (deed of trust preferred) A.R.S. 25-211 to 217 & Title 33 & 33 §§ 1101 et seq
Arkansas No, but a dower state.* up to $2,500 Spouse not on loan must sign Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32 & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Both (mortgage preferred) Arkansas § 14-15-405 & Ark. Const. Article 9, §§ 3-5
California Yes up to $175,000 Spouse not on loan must sign Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32 (if applicable) & Truth in Lending disclosure. Lender may require non-borrowing spouse to sign interspousal transfer deed. Both (deed of trust preferred) CCP § 2920-2944 & § 704.710-730 & § 703.140(b)(1)
Colorado   up to $90,000 Spouse on title but not loan must sign Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, and Truth in Lending disclosure. Spouse not on title or loan need not sign any document.   Deed of Trust C.R.S. § 15-15 & § 38-41-201 to § 38-41-207
Connecticut   $125,000 for money judgment Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. Lawyer signs title policy. Lawyer need not be present but usually is. Mortgage CT 846 § 49 & § 52-352a(e) & § 52-352b(t)
Delaware   $125,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of DE automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable. Lawyer required. Mortgage Delaware Title 25 Chapter 21 & Title 10, § 4914 (c)(1)
District of Columbia No, but a dower jurisdiction.* up to $146,450 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. Deed of Trust must include a statement saying spouse signs deed of trust solely to release his/her dower rights. Lawyer required. Notary must be licensed. Deed of Trust DC Code § 42 & DC ST § 15-501(a)(14)
Florida   Virtually unlimited Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32 & Truth in Lending disclosure because of FL automatic homestead rights. Joiner clause must be included in mortgage.   Mortgage Florida Chapter 494 & § 222.01 to § 222.05
Georgia   $10,000 single or $20,000 if married Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. Lawyer required Security Deed (Georgia Deed to Secure Debt) O.C.G.A. § 44-2-14 & 44-2-21 & § 44-13-100(a)(1) & § 44-13-100(a)(6)
Hawaii   up to $30,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure   Both (mortgage preferred) H.R.S. Title 28 & § 651-91, § 651-92, & § 651-96
Idaho Yes up to $100,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure   Deed of Trust Idaho Title 45 & Idaho Code § 55-1003, § 55-1004 & § 55-1113
Illinois   $15,000 (single) $30,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of IL automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) 765 ILCS 905 & 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-901 & 5/12-902
Indiana   $17,600 (single) $34,200 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of IN automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable. Notary must have title insurance license. Mortgage I.C.A. § 32-29 & § 34-55-10-2
Iowa   Unlimited (½ acre in city, 40 acres rural) Both spouses must sign an instrument encumbering the right of homestead.   Mortgage Iowa Chapter 535A & 561.2, 561.16, & 499A.18
Kansas No, but a dower state.* Unlimited (1 acre in city, 160 acres rural) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of KS automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Mortgage K.S.A. 58-2300 et seq & 60-2301 & Const. Article 15, Section 9
Kentucky No, but a dower state.* $5,000 (single) $10,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. The Security Instrument needs to include a statement saying the spouse is signing the Security Instrument solely to release his/her dower.   Both (mortgage preferred) K.R.S. Chapter 382 & 427.060 & 427.090
Louisiana Yes $35,000 (or more) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Mortgage R.S. 6:1081 & RS 9:3511 & § 20.1
Maine   up to $95,000 Mortgage need not be signed by the non-owner spouse if the spouse has not, prior to conveyance of the property, filed a notice of a divorce. For a refinance, spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of ME automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) M.R.S.A. Title 33 & Title 14 § 4422
Maryland   $21,625 Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. Notary must have title insurance license. Both (deed of trust preferred) Maryland § 3?105 & 11-504
Massachusetts   up to $500,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. Lawyer required. Notary can be lender employee. Both (mortgage preferred) General Laws Part II & 188, §§ 1?14
Michigan No, but a dower state.* up to $52,925 Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of MI automatic homestead and dower rights.   Both (mortgage preferred) MCL Chapter 565 & 600.5451(n)
Minnesota   up to $390,000 (residential) or up to $975,000 (agricultural) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of MN automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) M.S.A Chapter 47 & § 510.01 to 02
Mississippi   $75,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of MS automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Deed of Trust M.C.A. Title 89 & § 85-3-1 & 85-3-21
Missouri No, but a dower state.* $15,000 If a husband and wife are married to each other and both are on title, they must both sign the Deed of Trust. If a husband and wife are married to each other and one of them is not on title, then a waiver of marital rights must be signed by the spouse that is not on title. If there are two borrowers, one of which is married, the married borrower’s spouse must sign a waiver of marital rights. If the borrowers are not married, then no waiver need be signed. Deed of Trust M.R.S. Chapter 443 & 513.475 & 513.490
Montana   $250,000 (single) $500,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of MT automatic homestead rights. Or, non-signing spouse must complete Acknowledgement of Waiver of Statutory Homestead Exemption. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (deed of trust preferred) MCA § 72 & § 70-32-101 to 32-107
Nebraska   $60,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of NE automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Deed of Trust N.R.S. Chapter 76 & 40-101 to 40-116
Nevada Yes $550,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Deed of Trust NRS Chapters 106 & 107 & 115.010
New Hampshire   $100,000 (single) $200,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of NH automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) NHRS Title XLVIII & § 480:1
New Jersey No, but a dower state.** None Spouse not on loan must sign the deed or, if the property is the principal marital residence, would need to sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. Warranty or Quitclaim deed are not acceptable.   Mortgage N.J.A.C. 3:1
New Mexico Yes $60,000 (single) $120,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice to Right to Cancel, Section 32 & Truth in Lending Disclosure to release their interest in the property.   Both (deed of trust preferred) N.M.S.A. Chapter 48 & 42-10-9
New York   $75,000 to $150,000 depending on county Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.   Mortgage NY Code Real Property & C.P.L.R. 5206
North Carolina No, but a dower state.* up to $60,000 Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.   Deed of Trust N.C.G.S. Chapter 45 & 1C-1601
North Dakota   $100,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of ND automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Mortgage N.D. Chapter 35-03 & 28-22-02 & 47-18-01
Ohio No, but a dower state.* $21,625 (single) $43,250 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. The Security Instrument needs to include a statement saying the spouse is signing the Security Instrument solely to release his/her dower.   Mortgage O.R.C Title 53 & 2329.66
Oklahoma   Unlimited (1 acre in city, 160 acres rural) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of OK automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Mortgage O.S. Title 46 & 31 O.S. Section 1
Oregon   $40,000 (single) $50,000 (married) Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.   Deed of Trust O.C.S. § 86.705 & 18.395 to 18.402
Pennsylvania   Zero (single) or unlimited if owned as tenancy by the entirety (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Mortgage P.C.S. Title 7
Rhode Island   $300,000 Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.   Both (mortgage preferred) R.I.G.L. Title 34 & § 9-26-4.1
South Carolina   $53,375 (single) $106,750 (married) Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. Lawyer required. Mortgage S.C.C.A Title 29 & 15-41-30
South Dakota   Unlimited (1 acre in city, 160 acres rural) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of SD automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable. Courts divided if lawyer is required at closing. Both (mortgage preferred) S.D.C.L. Chapter 44-8 & § 43-31-1 to 43-31-41
Tennessee   up to $25,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of TN automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Deed of Trust Tenn. Title 47 Chapter 13 & § 26-3-101 to 26-3-117
Texas Yes Unlimited with acreage limits Spouse not on loan must sign the Deed of Trust, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure, (as well as the Mechanics Lien Contract if applicable) because of TX automatic homestead rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable. HELOC loan must be signed and closed in the office of a lender, attorney or title company. Deed of Trust Texas Const. Article XVI, Section 50 & Texas Property Code at § 41.001 to 41.024
Utah   $20,000 (single) $40,000 (married) Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. License required for notary handling funds. Deed of Trust Utah Title 57 & § 78B-5-503
Vermont   $125,000 (single) $250,000 (married) Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. Lawyer required Mortgage Vermont Title 27
Virginia No, but a dower state.*** up to $10,000 Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents. License required for notary handling funds. Deed of Trust Virginia Title 55 & 34-4 to 34-25
Washington Yes $125,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Deed of Trust RCW Chapter 61.24 & 6.13.030
West Virginia   $25,000 Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure. Lawyer required Deed of Trust WV Chapter 38 & 38-10-4
Wisconsin Yes $75,000 (single) $150,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.   Mortgage Wis. Chapter 708 & 815.20
Wyoming   $10,000 (single) $20,000 (married) Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure because of WY automatic homestead rights. Spouse must complete Release, Waiver and Subordination of Homestead Rights. Warranty Deed not acceptable.   Both (mortgage preferred) Wy. Title 34 & § 1-20-101 et seq
* Dower and curtesy rights are a surviving spouse’s right to inherit up to ½ of the decedent’s estate. May be called “Marital Rights.”
** Applies to property owned by a married person prior to May 28, 1980.
*** Augmented Estate Regime: If during a term of his or her life, if spouse conveys property for less than full value, then the spouse must join in a deed or mortgage.

Community Property

In community property states, debts incurred during the marriage to benefit the community, such as a home loan, are considered community property. Community debt is therefore owed by both spouses regardless of whether both spouses are listed on the contract. Your state law determines if you live in a community property state. Each state’s community property law is slightly different from the others.

Read the Bills.com article to learn more about community property and other forms of concurrent ownership.

Dower

Under English common law, dower is the right of a woman to inherit from her husband. (Curtesy is the husband’s right to inherit from his wife.) In most states, a spouse of someone who dies without a will is awarded a third to a half of the decedent’s estate. In some states, the dower and curtesy laws are written in a manner that require the spouse to sign certain documents at the closing of a new loan or refinance.

Quick Tip
Unsure how to handle your debt? Let the Bills.com give you a customized report on your debt resolution options. It’s free!

Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption has two uses. The first is to cut your taxes by reducing the market value of your home when calculating property tax. The second is setting the amount protected from creditors in bankruptcy and judgment-creditors who wish to place a lien on your property. Because of the way their laws are written, some states have cross-over between their homestead and marital property laws.

A few states give homeowners automatic homestead protection. In most states, homeowners must file a homestead declaration with the county recorder’s office. See the Bills.com page to learn how this can help protect your asset.

Deed of Trust, Mortgage

Deeds of trust and mortgages are two different ways to create home loans. Consumers and lenders call home loans “mortgages” even in deed of trust states. If you live in a deed of trust state, expect the loan officer and title company to use the deed of trust phrase instead of the word mortgage. For consumers, the big difference between the two is foreclosures can happen in less time in deed of trust states.

Read the Bills.com article to learn more about these unique documents.

Quick Tip
don’t assume the loan you’re offered is the best deal. . this is one time where shopping is the answer to your problems.

Truth in Lending Disclosure

Includes information about your annual percentage rate (APR), your finance charge, the amount of credit provided, and the total of payments. Sometimes called a “TILA disclosure.”

Warranty Deed

Seller guarantees he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it. By contrast, a quitclaim deed has no guarantees.

See the Bills.com to learn more about the liability you may have if your home ownership ends with a foreclosure or short sale.

Although Bills.com takes reasonable care to provide accurate information, errors in law and interpretation may occur. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in real property law to understand your rights and liabilities.

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