Whether you’ve been married recently or just decided you trust your spouse enough to give him the thrill of home ownership, adding your spouse’s name to a mortgage can be a bigger chore than you’d expect. Mortgage companies are generally careful about who they will loan money to, so you should expect a thorough review before adding your spouse to a mortgage. It may take patience and, most likely, a refinance of your home, but if you follow a few basic steps you’ll achieve your dream of gifting your spouse a portion of your home debt.
Review your spouse’s credit score. Before you’re surprised that a mortgage company is going to charge an exorbitant interest rate because your spouse has some unflattering credit issues, it’s prudent to help him check his credit report first. Americans are allowed one free credit report per year from AnnualCreditReport.com from each of the three major credit bureaus. If he's already used his annual free report, have him request one from the major credit bureaus using a credit or debit card online.
Call your lender and tell them you’d like to add your spouse to the mortgage. They’ll nearly always demand a refinance because a loan is a legal contract between you and the lender, and you’re adding a name to the contract. If they are willing to simply add your spouse’s name, ask what paperwork they’ll need and gather the appropriate documents.
Shop for mortgages through other lenders if yours demands a refinance. There is no sense in blindly entering a new mortgage without ensuring that it’s at a reasonable rate with appropriate fees. Websites such as bankrate.com will give you an idea of current interest rates on various popular terms, such as 15- or 30-year fixed rate loans. Once you’ve decided on a new loan, apply with your spouse jointly, assuming the credit score search didn’t show any potential problems for securing a new loan.
Hand over all the required documents to secure the new mortgage with your spouse. Usually this will include verification of income, debt and assets, so be ready to show them tax returns, income of both you and your spouse, and credit card, bank, brokerage and retirement fund statements for each of you. Many lenders have a checklist of items they need to streamline your search. Ask for one to quickly gather every necessary document.
Track the mortgage process to ensure it's handled in a timely manner. Unless you’ve locked in your interest rate, an extended process may cause your projected rate and payment to jump if interest rates rise dramatically. Communicate with your lender regularly and ensure they have everything they need to process your loan. Once the loan is ready, meet with your lender to sign any required documents.
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