While it may seem odd at first, there are many reasons for one spouse to buy a house without the other. Some couples keep all finances separate. If one spouse is using inherited money for the down payment, qualifying for a separate loan to buy a house as separate property keeps the investment separate. Since most transactions include both partners, you'll need to inspect everything carefully to make sure all official loan paperwork uses your name -- without any mention of your spouse.
Order your personal credit reports from the "Big Three" credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com and check your report for errors and dings. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- the "Big Three" -- collect separate information, so don't stop your investigation with just one report. You're entitled to one free copy of your report each year.
Collect your separate financial paperwork. You'll need to bring income statements, credit reports and tax filings for the last two years to meet with your lender or loan broker. Any income shared with your spouse doesn't qualify for the separate loan, so make sure to separate this information from your personal records.
Shop lenders and loan brokers for the best interest rates and terms on mortgage loans. Use the Internet to browse rates and advertised specials.
Meet with the bank lender or a mortgage broker you've selected, fill out your application and ask to be prequalified for your loan. The approved amount gives you a target sales price for your home search. This process also typically requires paying a small application fee.
Ask your lender for a written pre-approval letter. This letter lets sellers know you can move fast to buy when you find the perfect house.
Shop for your house, apartment or condo.
Sign the sales contract for your new house. Include language in the purchase offer that you must qualify for a mortgage loan to complete the sale. The contract language must also list the purchase exclusively under your legal name with the notation "a married woman, as her sole and separate property."
Deliver the sales contract to your mortgage lender.
Deliver a formal letter to escrow stating this house, and the mortgage, belong to you as your separate property. The letter must be signed by your spouse.
- Ask your escrow officer about any state requirements for notarizing the letter from your spouse. A notary confirms your identify and stamps the document with the official seal of the licensed notary public. Your spouse may also need to sign additional official paperwork for the lender in states recognizing community property -- meaning couples share everything equally. Each state has unique laws to recognize separate property for spouses. Your escrow officer can help with the details.
- [Fact checking: #4]
- Read the transfer for the grant deed carefully. It must show title under your name as a "married woman, as her sole and separate property" to own the property exclusively in your name.
- Lenders cannot discriminate against married people. You have the right to a separate loan and the right to hold property under a grant deed in your name. If your loan representative or broker tells you otherwise, report the person to a supervisor -- or directly to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center for companies refusing to consider your loan. Get the refusal in writing, if possible.
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