Does It Matter Whose Name Is First When Applying for a Mortgage?

The main breadwinner is often listed first on the mortgage application.

The main breadwinner is often listed first on the mortgage application.

You might wonder whether a mortgage lender places more weight on one applicant's financial profile than the co-applicant's. After all, couples who apply for a home loan together often have incomes that differ. When evaluating borrowers for a joint mortgage, the lender cares less about who is listed first, and more about the sum of the applicants' earnings and debts. In general, the lender evaluates the application the way the applicants submit it, without regard to whose name is listed first.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

The primary breadwinner or the applicant with stronger credit can list his name first on the application, or the applicant who otherwise considers himself the head of the household. Lenders typically rely on automated underwriting software to process applications -- at least initially. The loan ultimately goes to an underwriter who verifies income, asset, employment and credit information. It's against the law for mortgage lenders to base decisions on the gender of the primary applicant. However, initial results in a 2013 study conducted by the Woodstock Institute indicated that lenders were more likely to deny applications that listed females first. Generally, approval is based on the credit and financial strengths and weaknesses of both applicants as a unit.

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