How Many Names Can Be on a Mortgage?

A mortgage document is a legal contract under which the borrowers agree to pay the lender an agreed-upon sum of money, plus interest, for the purpose of financing a home. The title to the home, on the other hand, shows ownership of the property. It is important to not conflate the two documents. Most lenders will dictate internally their rules on the number of names on a mortgage (the borrowers), but more often than not, that number is one or two.

One or Two

In general, most lenders do not want to see more than two people on a mortgage contract. In many cases, borrowers are married couples who co-own a home together. Single borrowers can also put another signer, such as a family member or an unmarried partner, on a mortgage agreement if they find it necessary. The most important thing is that anyone whose name is on a mortgage contract is under a legal obligation to repay the loan, no matter the financial circumstance of each individual borrower. According to the U.S. Census, home ownership in the first quarter was 65.0 percent, an 18-year low, but over the years, its figures have shown that married couples have been about twice as likely to be homeowners than singles.

Title and Ownership

Land and property ownership is not the same as a mortgage. The title to a piece of property lists all owners, but not all owners are required to be on the mortgage contract. However, each owner is required to sign at the mortgage closing acknowledging that a lien (the mortgage) is being attached to the property. Therefore, it is possible for a home to be owned by several members of a family who are not in any way obligated to a loan on that property.

Three or More

In some cases, a lender will allow more than two borrowers to sign onto a mortgage contract. This is a rarer occurrence and usually applies only when a clear lack of income exists between two people on a mortgage application. A third party can enter the agreement and use her income to support the loan application. However, if a third person's income is used to calculate the debt-to-income ratio on the loan application, the third person is obligated to the repayment of loan over the course of its amortization.

Removing Names

Unlike title to a land or property, removing names from a mortgage is not so simple. To add or remove names from a title, you simple need a quit claim deed and a notary public to witness and record the document. However, to remove or add names to/from a mortgage, you need to do a refinance -- and to remove someone from the mortgage, you need to requalify without the credit score and income of that person or persons.

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About the Author

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.

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