Mortgage as a Married Couple

Updated on January 07, 2013
K.L. asks from Fort Stewart, GA
16 answers

My husband and I are saving for a home and while we most likely will not be purchasing a home for few years, we are looking into the entire process now, so we will be prepared later on. We just checked our FICO scores and mine is considered excellent and his is fair. We did find an error in my husbands report, that could bring him up a bit, and my score is borderline excellent, almost just very good, which I know could be the case with a different credit bureau score. We have been doing great with on time payments etc. for the past few years, and should be debt free (except a student loan under my name) by the end of March!

This is what I think I know: when we apply for a mortgage, the lenders will look at both of our scores, and will make a decision based on the lower of our 2 scores (most likely all 3 scores each, and take the lower middle score), which will be my husband. I do not work and we plan on keeping it that way for a few more years because I would like to stay home with our children. I know that if I had an income to support a mortgage, I would most likely go for a loan by myself, but that will not work in our situation.

Does this information sound accurate to you?

If you have any advice about getting a first home loan, VA loans, or house hunting, I would LOVE to hear it! Also,if you know of any good resources to read up on (websites, books, etc) that would be greatly appreciated. T!

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answers from New York on

Fixed rate! No adjustables EVER!

Make sure your payments are low enough that it is less than 36% of your take home income.

Save up enough before you buy to put down 20% plus have plenty set aside for emergency repairs.

Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood, that you can do inexpensive fixups on. IE overlook yucky paint and carpeting and outdated kitchens! You can update relatively inexpensively. But a good neighborhood with good schools is invaluable.

Good luck! Have fun!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Three things to keep in mind for when you buy a house.
1. Always go for the fixed rate loan. Even if the mortgage rates seem better with an ARM, and especially if the rate at the time is anywhere near 6% or lower. ARM's come with balloon payments of $15,000 - 20,000 at the 5yr mark and WILL always sneak up on you.

2. Your mortgage payment can and in most cases will include an escrow accout to cover your county/state taxes, as well as your monthly home owners insurance. This amount will not be the amount discussed with your mortgage lender.

Ex. You may talk to Wells Fargo about getting a $180,000 loan, 30 yr fixed.
and they say that your loan amount will be $1100.00 a month. Your true payment, including taxes and insurance will be closer to $1400 - 1500 a month.

3. You will need approximately $200 - 300 a month available for home maintenance repairs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Good for you!! Debt free is the way to go..

Mortgages... make sure you have a fixed rate.
Pay done at LEAST 20%
Forgo the escrow... All it takes is self discipline and you can pay the insurance and taxes yearly all by yourself without the mortgage xompany making even more money on you. All that money stays in YOUR account and YOU get the interest!! You just know that you have a hefty property tax and insurance bill once a year!

Make sure you have plenty of savings to keep everything in working order.

Some people get into a house and then don't upgrade, repair, etc and then they get this whopping emergency bill because the didn't maintain the place.

Use a mortgage broker to seek out the best deal for you.

It sounds like you are on track with saving and paying off debt. Good for you and best wishes finding your home!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Debt free is wonderful, but in order to raise your hubby's credit score, get a credit card and pay the balance in full each month so you don't carry a balance and don't pay finance charges, etc. Making monthly payments on time over time will raise his score. If you have no installment payments, his score won't go up because there is no activity. I thought my hubby's would go up, but all he has in his name is the house so his score has stagnated. We got a credit card and just use is sparingly, pay off each month and his score is gradually going up.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You have a few years to bring your hubby's score up. When we went for our mortgage, my husband only had 3 years of credit history! (He moved here from Europe). My score was excellent, his good. It made no difference.

I'd work on bringing your hubby's score up. You have two years, plenty of time.

ARMS do not come with balloon payments. We have an arm, our rate adjusted down 1.5 percent this year. arms are fine if you know what you are doing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

if you are going to do the mortgage in your husband's name only - then you HAVE to bring his score up.

A VA, while easier to get than a traditional loan, is still going to go on credit rating, job security (you MUST have been employed for at least two consecutive years and ANY lapse must be accounted for).

Lenders will look at:
* revolving credit - how much you have and how much you use
* any student loans and that repayment schedule - on time, late, etc.
* car loans - repossessions, payment and ability to repay
* unsecured loans - payments and ability to repay

The biggest thing is the debt to income ratio and the proven ability to repay the mortgage.

You said you found an error in your husband's report - get it fixed. make sure that any and all credit cards, student loans and ANY loans are being paid on time.

You stated you will be debt free in March!! That's great!! However, when going to purchase a home - they will need to see that you REPAY loans CURRENTLY...not just over the last 3 years. So if you have credit - use it - WISELY - and make it off monthly or every other month so you can show the ability to repay and pay on time.

If you plan on staying home - you do EVERYTHING on his salary/income and credit - this way - you KNOW should you go back to work - everything you make is gravy. When i say EVERYTHING - I mean EVERYTHING - electric, gas, water, sewer, etc. so you KNOW you can make it on his salary.

Suze Orman recommended that if you want to buy a home or a bigger home - start putting that "new mortgage" in a savings account for six months. If you can't do that - you can't afford it. This will also give you a nice down payment as well.

So go to the web (since you are former military - I figured Navy Federal might work for might work as well).

also go to the library and borrow books from Dave Ramsey or Suze Ormann to make sure you are handling your finances that works for your family.

I would also contact the base and find out if they have any home-buyer programs out there - Andrews AFB offers one to active and former military via MWS and will show you what to look for, what to expect and what you will need to do to be ready to purchase your first home!!!

There is a LOT that goes into it....location, cost, room/space, etc. You will need to be per-qualified first and you typically do NOT do that until 30 to 45 days prior to being ready to purchase.

The fees for a VA can be wrapped into the loan so you won't have to worry about upfront costs. So keep in mind that at least $10K of your mortgage will be VA Fees. if your husband is 40% disabled the fees will be waived.


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answers from Albuquerque on

Banks use all different formulas, but yes - both of your credit histories will come into play. You have several years to improve your husband's credit so look into how you could do it. If you're already paying everything on time, could you prepay some of his debt rather than yours? Are all the credit cards in his name? If so, it may look like he has too much debt relative to his income. There are multiple websites and books you can check out at the library that can help you improve his credit. Just don't pay anyone to do it - they never do things you couldn't do yourself!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Try to find a reputable mortgage broker in your area. For whatever reason mortgage brokers know more about the ins and outs of getting a better rate.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

What you want to show is that you can use credit wisely. So - although it seems counter-intuitive, if your husband has a credit card in his name, from now until then, put some of your household expenses on the credit card. Then (and this is the most important!!!) PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH.

This will increase your score by showing you know how to use credit. And, if you get a card with a reward program, you could even get a little cash back.

But only do this if you know you have the disclipline to pay it off every single month and never charge more than you can handle. If you don't think you have the discipline to do this - then skip this advice.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You are correct. Lower of 2 middle scores. Credit score absolutely matters. 760 plus is considered excellent. Yes you would need an income to just apply in your name. The lower credit score the higher the rate. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We just bought our first house 2 months ago and it went pretty easily. My husband works and I dont. When the mortgage company reviewed our credit, they mainly looked at my husbands since he was the main person on the loan and I was the secondary. They were, however, interested in my credit lines. They had said that they mainly look for 3 lines of credit to approve a mortgage (3 credit cards between the two of us). We also went for a FHA loan, which gives you a fixed rate and a 3.5% downpayment. We were pretty pleased with the process.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Congrats on being debt free soon! That's a HUGE accomplishment in my book. :) Student loans never go away though, it seems.

My DH and I just bought a home about a year and a half ago. I work and he doesn't, and even though both our credit scores are excellent, we put the mortgage in my name only. We are both on the title. We did this because they don't use his debt when calculating the debt-to-income ratio, which ended up giving us a better rate. He has student loans as well that are under just his name. We still bought a house we could afford on my income alone, but we did it this way to save money. You have to have the willpower to stay within your own limit, and not what they say you can afford! You might want to consider putting it in his name only, once he brings up his score a bit. They are going to calculate based on the lowest score anyway (it's not an average), so if leaving you off the mortgage gives you a better rate, then it might be good for you.

I live in a suburban/rural area and got a loan from the USDA (wierd, right? lol). Even though I'm in a subdivision it's rural enough that the government gives some incentives to buyers outside of the main city suburbs. It's similar to a VA or FHA loan from what I understand. There is no down payment required. PMI/MIP is much lower in the USDA loan than conventional and FHA loans. There are income limits, you can look it up for your area on the USDA website.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

When applying for a mortgage, credit scores are very important, but there are several other factors that are considered including income, potential futre income, employment history, and where you have lived.

Your off to a great start by preparing now. Improve your credit scores and save.

Credit scores - One of the quickest ways to lower your score is late payments. A small amount of debt actually increases your credit score. By using a credit card or having a loan and making timely payments, you show that you are responsible. So while debt free is great, use a credit card every now and then, just don't charge a large amount and pay it off in full to avoid interest.

Savings - you can never have enough. You'll need to have a down payment. You'll need to have closing cost, which will include the fee to obtain a mortgage, a title search, a home inspection, realator fees, and real estate taxes - at least $5,000. You'll also need to have funds set aside for moving costs and repairs.

Occassionally look online or your local paper and do a little research of the sale prices of houses you may be interested in. Use loan calculators to find out if you'll be able to afford these homes. Keep in mind in addition to the actual mortage payment amount you'll also need to make monthly escrow payments that will include PMI (private mortgage insurance if less than a 20% downpayment), real estate taxes and home owners insurance.

The first step in purchasing a home is prequalifying for a mortgage.

I've found alot of good articles in the money section of

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answers from San Francisco on

Well, your debt ratio (that is, used credit vs available credit) is getting better and better, since you are paying off your debt, and that will help. The other thing that helps is on-time payments. They like to see no late payments for 3 years (that's not to say they won't loan you money otherwise, but you might not get the best rate with late payments on your record). Removing the error from your husband's report will certainly help his scores, and then just continuing to pay your bills on time will raise his score significantly as time goes by.

The other thing is, even if you pay off credit cards, DON'T CLOSE THE ACCOUNTS. You don't have to use them, but don't close them. Part of your credit score is the longevity of your accounts. For instance, a credit card you've had for 10 years is a positive on your record, whereas that same credit card, closed, is a negative. Go figure, right?

Anyway, even if you're not working, you and your husband will both probably need to be on the mortgage. (Assuming that you will both be on title, which of course you will be.)

When you get to the point of looking for a house, find a good realtor (ask friends, and/or take note of for-sale signs in your neighborhood, and you'll see the same realtor names over and over, probably). A good realtor will have a short list of good mortgage brokers they've worked with before. These brokers will be the go-getters who will make sure the loan gets funded, and will know all of the different programs you may qualify for. Realtors and mortgage brokers only get paid when deals close (and of course, as a buyer, you do not pay the realtor, the seller pays the realtor) - so they are very motivated to make it happen for you! :)

ETA: Check on your state laws re: realtors getting kickbacks for referrals to mortgage brokers, as someone mentioned above. Here in California, that is illegal. (My husband has his real estate brokers' license, so I know for sure they do not get kickbacks here! ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You are over thinking this because you are excited. Talk to friends and family that are experienced, they can give you great info.

Why would you get a mortgage by yourself if you could?

Is his score under 600? If yes then you need to work on bringing his up, preferably 620. If it's 620 or above, then you have nothing to worry about (rate wise) and only should concentrate on building up your down payment.

When a lender looks at a 870 score or a 620 score there is absolutely no difference. The rate will NOT be any different nor the closing costs.

When you are ready to buy, my advice is to shop around but DONT allow anyone to pull your credit report. Just call several lenders and brokers and ask what the interest rate is for an A customer, and what the closing costs are. They will argue with you that they can't give you the info till they see your full picture BUT tell them they don't need it till you are ready to go with them. If they refuse then hang up and move on to the next lender.

Get a mortgage approval letter when you are ready to buy.

And a realtor may push you to use someone they know but you don't have to (they get a kick back)so shop around!!!!! One of the best lenders out there is Quicken loans.

And only get a fixed rate, no matter how tempting an ARM can look.

A resource that I highly recommend is Dave Ramsey. Get his books at the library. More so than reading the book, I would also recommend you and your husband take his class called Financial Peace University. I believe every single person in the U.S. should have to take this course. It will give you tons of info about purchasing a house. How interest rates work, etc; basically anything that has to do with money, which is everything, is covered. You will NOT be sorry.

BTW I was a mortgage broker for almost 20 years.

Best of luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I know mortgage companies are much stricter about how much house you can afford but... You should know what mortgage amount you feel comfortable paying every month and don't forget to include taxes and other monthly expenses. When we bought our house the mortgage people told us we could "afford" a house that was double the price of the house we have. Although on paper we may have been able to afford it, we would not have been able to afford to go out to dinner let alone furnish and decorate our new house.

Also, check out They have great mortgage calculators with amortization tables.

1 mom found this helpful
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