Can I Be a Co-applicant on a Mortgage Without My Credit Being Run?

Co-applicants on mortgage loans can't escape a credit check.

Co-applicants on mortgage loans can't escape a credit check.

You've decided to co-apply for a mortgage loan, whether with your spouse or with a friend or other family member. Unfortunately, your credit is lower than it should be thanks to high credit-card debt and several late car-loan payments. Though you might prefer that lenders ignore your past financial behavior, they will run your credit if you sign onto an application for a mortgage loan as a co-applicant.

Credit Scores

Mortgage lenders today rely heavily on the three-digit credit scores of borrowers. That's because these numbers provide a quick snapshot of how well loan applicants have managed their credit. Borrowers who have missed several car payments, often pay their credit-card bills late or have run up large amounts of credit mcard debt will generally have lower credit scores. Those who have a history of paying their bills on time and don't have much revolving debt will boast higher credit scores. Lenders view borrowers with high credit scores as being more likely to pay their mortgage payments on time each month.

Co-Applicants

Sometimes more than one borrower applies for a mortgage loan. This often occurs with married couples who are buying a home together. Other times unrelated buyers might want to purchase a residence together, or family members -- such as a brother or sister -- might want to pool their financial resources to buy a condominium or single-family home. The benefit of this is that it allows lenders to consider both applicants' sources of income, something that can allow borrowers to purchase a more expensive residence.

Co-Applicant Challenges

Having more than one applicant, though, can also come with problems. Lenders will run the credit of however many applicants are on a mortgage-loan application. This is fine if both applicants have strong credit scores. But if a co-applicant has a particularly weak score, lenders might reject the loan application for fear that the borrowers will miss loan payments or default on the mortgage loan completely.

Solutions

One solution is to rely just on the applicant with a strong credit score. This will work if that particular applicant has a strong enough gross monthly income to cover the monthly mortgage payments that would come with a particular home. If a single applicant's income isn't high enough, borrowers will either have to find a less costly home that comes with a lower mortgage payment or hope that the financially healthy applicant's credit score is so high that it will overwhelm the lower credit score of the applicant with the more shaky financial history in the eyes of a mortgage lender. It is possible for a spouse -- or other home-buying partner -- with bad credit to be listed as a co-owner on a house without being a co-applicant, or co-borrower, on a loan. This way, even though the spouse or partner's income and credit score aren't being used in the mortgage application, they can still be listed on the home's title.

About the Author

I'm a veteran freelance writer with more than 15 years experience writing for newspapers, consumer magazines and trade publications. My stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, BusinessWeek Online, Business 2.0 Magazine and many other publications. I am also the managing editor of a real estate magazine based in Chicago and the writer of www.propertycrossroads.com, a blog devoted to residential real estate. This year, my first comic-book series, GEARZ, was published by Blue Water Publishing. The company will be publishing three other of my comic-book mini-series in 2008 and 2009.

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