When you got your mortgage, you might have applied with a spouse or other co-borrower to get better mortgage terms, split the financial responsibilities or because you wanted to live together.
But life happens and things change. Maybe you’re getting a divorce or you’ve decided you want to live on your own. Now you’re probably wondering how to get a name off a mortgage.
While you can remove a name from a mortgage, it isn’t always easy. We’ve put together some factors you should consider to help you figure out where to start.
How Do I Remove a Name From a Mortgage?
If you and your co-borrower are ready to part ways but one of you plans on staying in the home, you’re going to have to figure out how to get your name (or your co-borrower’s name) off the joint mortgage.
Talk to each other
Before you begin the removal process, decide who is going to take over the mortgage and who is going to be removed. It’s important to note that the person who’s getting removed will still be responsible for the monthly mortgage payments until their name is legally removed from the mortgage and deed.
Once you’ve decided who’s staying, you can start to look at your options.
Talk to your lender
Once you and your co-borrower know who will be removed from the joint mortgage, your lender can help you decide which removal option is best.
Talking to your lender is crucial because they’ll be able to make recommendations based on your situation and answer any questions you have.
Remember, both co-borrowers are responsible for mortgage payments until one co-borrower is taken off the mortgage and deed.
When you remove a co-borrower from a loan that increases a lender’s risk. The options you’re offered by your lender will reflect that reality.
Depending on the situation, there are a few ways to remove a name from a mortgage, but refinancing is the most popular.
Lenders may be willing to refinance your mortgage under a single homeowner. This is often the best way to remove a name from a mortgage and, in some cases, it may be the only way.
The borrower remaining on the loan must meet these qualifications to refinance the mortgage:
- Credit: Lenders prefer a credit score in the 620 – 640 range. A higher credit score may get you more favorable terms.
- Income: Lenders need proof that you can afford the mortgage payments on your own and have enough money to maintain the home.
- Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio: Lenders will look at your LTV (the amount you currently owe divided by the current appraised value of the home). Lenders usually prefer an LTV of 80% or lower.
- Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: For conventional loans, lenders will also look at your DTI. Ideally, your DTI should be no more than 36%, but a higher credit score may offset a higher DTI.
Although refinancing may be the best option, it may also be the most expensive option. Refinancing usually involves paying closing costs that can range from 3% – 6% of the loan’s value, and the amount of time it takes to refinance could also be a drawback.
Depending on the type of loan you have, there are different kinds of refinancing options available.
- Streamline refinance: If the loan is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan or Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, you may be able to use the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) or the FHA Streamline Refinance to remove a name and close faster than you would with a traditional refinance.
- Cash-out refinance: A cash-out refinance lets you refinance your home and gives you a lump sum of money. In this scenario, the remaining borrower could use the lump sum to buy out the co-borrower and get their name off the mortgage. To qualify for a cash-out refinance, you must have 20% equity in the home.
How Do I Remove a Name From a Mortgage Without Refinancing?
You can also remove a name from a mortgage through loan assumption or loan modification. Not all mortgage lenders offer loan assumption or loan modification. Talk with your lender to see if this is something they offer.
Loan assumption may seem like the simplest way to remove a name from a mortgage, but it’s not a widely available option and there are closing costs involved.
With a loan assumption, the remaining borrower takes over the balance of the loan, and the original terms of the mortgage (like the interest rate) stay the same. Lenders may be less likely to agree to a loan assumption because one borrower would be responsible for a loan the lender originally approved for two borrowers.
If you’re the co-borrower who wants their name off the mortgage, we’ve got a pro tip!
Pro tip: As long as you get a release of liability from the lender, your finances and credit are protected in case the remaining co-borrower fails to make the mortgage payments.
A document stating that your mortgage lender has removed you from a mortgage loan, and you are no longer financially responsible for repayment.
Loan modifications change the terms of a loan, like its interest rate or length of repayment, without having to refinance. When you refinance, you get new loan terms because you’re also getting a new loan. Loan modifications are mostly used in cases of financial hardship, but there are other instances when you may be able to take advantage of them.
Explain your situation to your lender to see if you can use a loan modification to remove a name from your mortgage.
If you’ve tried everything to get your name or your co-borrower’s name off the mortgage and you keep coming up empty, it may be that neither of you can afford a mortgage on your own. At this point, selling the house or coming up with an alternative agreement may be your only options.
If the balance of the mortgage is greater than the home’s appraised value, you’ll have to opt for a short sale, which means the home’s sale price won’t cover the mortgage balance. Your lender won’t get back all the money they let you borrow with a short sale. So, the lender will have to greenlight your decision to short sell before you can list the home.
A short sale may drop your credit score, and your lender may make you pay the difference between the sale price and the mortgage, but that’s not always the case.
Another option might be to stay together on paper, but not IRL. It’s a risky option – and not normally recommended – but both of you could continue to make mortgage payments together while only one of you lives in the home.
What Is a Quitclaim Deed?
No matter how a name is removed from a mortgage, the name must also be removed from the property deed. And you do that by filing a quitclaim deed. A quitclaim deed is a document that publicly removes a person’s claim to a property (read: they no longer have ownership rights). The quitclaim deed transfers ownership to the person who’s staying on the property.
To file a quitclaim deed, ask your real estate attorney for a copy of the form or find one online through your local county clerk’s office. Both you and your soon-to-be ex-co-borrower fill out the form, sign it in front of a notary and file it with the county clerk.
To transfer financial responsibility of the loan and transfer ownership of the property, you must remove the co-borrower’s name from the mortgage and file a quitclaim deed.
Change Can Be a Good Thing
The only constant in life is change, and it’s better to be ready for it when it comes. If you’re ready to take steps to remove your name or your co-borrower’s name from your mortgage, talk to your lender.
They’ll tell you if you’re financially ready to take on the responsibility of a mortgage solo. They’ll also make sure that you’ve legally cut ties with the departing borrower. And if you can’t get a name removed, there are alternatives you can turn to.
Change isn’t always easy – but it can be a good thing.
Fannie Mae. “B3-5.1-01, General Requirements for Credit Scores (09/01/2021).” Retrieved February 2022 from https://selling-guide.fanniemae.com/Selling-Guide/Origination-thru-Closing/Subpart-B3-Underwriting-Borrowers/Chapter-B3-5-Credit-Assessment/Section-B3-5-1-Credit-Scores/1032996841/B3-5-1-01-General-Requirements-for-Credit-Scores-08-05-2020.htm
Fannie Mae. “B3-6-02, Debt-to-Income Ratios (02/05/2020).” Retrieved February 2022 from https://selling-guide.fanniemae.com/Selling-Guide/Origination-thru-Closing/Subpart-B3-Underwriting-Borrowers/Chapter-B3-6-Liability-Assessment/1032992131/B3-6-02-Debt-to-Income-Ratios-02-05-2020.htm#DTI.20Ratios
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Interest rate reduction refinance loan.” Retrieved February 2022 from https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/loan-types/interest-rate-reduction-loan/
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Streamline Your FHA Mortgage.” Retrieved February 2022 from https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/loan-types/interest-rate-reduction-loan/