Mortgage Laws

Mortgage Laws
IN THIS ARTICLE:
  • 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.

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.

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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 PropertyHomestead ExemptionSpouse SignatureSpecial Closing RulesMortgage or Deed of TrustState Laws
Alabama$5,000Spouse 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
AlaskaOptional. Spouses may opt-in to create CP estate.$70,200Spouse 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 TrustAlaska Title 34 Chapter 20 & § 09.38.010 (a)
ArizonaYes. Joinder of both spouses is required to purchase community real propertyup to $150,000Spouse 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
ArkansasNo, but a dower state.*up to $2,500Spouse 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
CaliforniaYesup to $175,000Spouse 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)
Coloradoup to $90,000Spouse 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 TrustC.R.S. § 15-15 & § 38-41-201 to § 38-41-207
Connecticut$125,000 for money judgmentSpouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.Lawyer signs title policy. Lawyer need not be present but usually is.MortgageCT 846 § 49 & § 52-352a(e) & § 52-352b(t)
Delaware$125,000Spouse 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.MortgageDelaware Title 25 Chapter 21 & Title 10, § 4914 (c)(1)
District of ColumbiaNo, but a dower jurisdiction.*up to $146,450Spouse 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 TrustDC Code § 42 & DC ST § 15-501(a)(14)
FloridaVirtually unlimitedSpouse 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.MortgageFlorida Chapter 494 & § 222.01 to § 222.05
Georgia$10,000 single or $20,000 if marriedSpouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.Lawyer requiredSecurity 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)
Hawaiiup to $30,000Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosureBoth (mortgage preferred)H.R.S. Title 28 & § 651-91, § 651-92, & § 651-96
IdahoYesup to $100,000Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosureDeed of TrustIdaho 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.MortgageI.C.A. § 32-29 & § 34-55-10-2
IowaUnlimited (½ acre in city, 40 acres rural)Both spouses must sign an instrument encumbering the right of homestead.MortgageIowa Chapter 535A & 561.2, 561.16, & 499A.18
KansasNo, 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.MortgageK.S.A. 58-2300 et seq & 60-2301 & Const. Article 15, Section 9
KentuckyNo, 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
LouisianaYes$35,000 (or more)Spouse not on loan must sign the Security Instrument, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.MortgageR.S. 6:1081 & RS 9:3511 & § 20.1
Maineup to $95,000Mortgage 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$21,625Spouse 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
Massachusettsup to $500,000Spouse 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
MichiganNo, but a dower state.*up to $52,925Spouse 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)
Minnesotaup 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$75,000Spouse 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 TrustM.C.A. Title 89 & § 85-3-1 & 85-3-21
MissouriNo, but a dower state.*$15,000If 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 TrustM.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$60,000Spouse 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 TrustN.R.S. Chapter 76 & 40-101 to 40-116
NevadaYes$550,000Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.Deed of TrustNRS 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 JerseyNo, but a dower state.**NoneSpouse 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.MortgageN.J.A.C. 3:1
New MexicoYes$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 countySpouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.MortgageNY Code Real Property & C.P.L.R. 5206
North CarolinaNo, but a dower state.*up to $60,000Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.Deed of TrustN.C.G.S. Chapter 45 & 1C-1601
North Dakota$100,000Spouse 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.MortgageN.D. Chapter 35-03 & 28-22-02 & 47-18-01
OhioNo, 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.MortgageO.R.C Title 53 & 2329.66
OklahomaUnlimited (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.MortgageO.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 TrustO.C.S. § 86.705 & 18.395 to 18.402
PennsylvaniaZero (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.MortgageP.C.S. Title 7
Rhode Island$300,000Spouse 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.MortgageS.C.C.A Title 29 & 15-41-30
South DakotaUnlimited (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
Tennesseeup to $25,000Spouse 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 TrustTenn. Title 47 Chapter 13 & § 26-3-101 to 26-3-117
TexasYesUnlimited with acreage limitsSpouse 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 TrustTexas 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 TrustUtah Title 57 & § 78B-5-503
Vermont$125,000 (single) $250,000 (married)Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.Lawyer requiredMortgageVermont Title 27
VirginiaNo, but a dower state.***up to $10,000Spouse not on loan does not need to sign any documents.License required for notary handling funds.Deed of TrustVirginia Title 55 & 34-4 to 34-25
WashingtonYes$125,000Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.Deed of TrustRCW Chapter 61.24 & 6.13.030
West Virginia$25,000Spouse not on loan must sign the Mortgage, Notice of Right to Cancel, Section 32, & Truth in Lending disclosure.Lawyer requiredDeed of TrustWV Chapter 38 & 38-10-4
WisconsinYes$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.MortgageWis. 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.

State-By-State Mortgage Laws. Source: Bills.com

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 The Law of Real Property & Concurrent Ownership 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.

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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 Homestead Exemption 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 Mortgage, Note, Deed, & Title article to learn more about these unique documents.

Quick Tip

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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 anti-deficiency resource 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.