How to Get a Mortgage With a Co-Signer

by Lisa McQuerrey ; Updated July 27, 2017

If you can’t qualify for a mortgage on your own merits, a co-signer may be able to use her income and credit score to boost your borrowing power.

Why You Might Need a Co-signer

If a mortgage lender says you need a co-signer for your loan, chances are your credit is poor, your income is too low or your debt-to-income ratio is too high. This means the lender doesn’t think you’re a good risk on your own, but he may be willing to fund you if you have a co-signer, or someone with a good income and good credit history who is willing to take on the responsibility of paying the mortgage if you are unable to.


  • The ability to use a co-signer at all varies from one lender to another. If you're applying for a Federal Housing Administration loan, your co-signer will have to be a close blood relative.

Co-Signer Requirements

A co-signer will be subject to the same underwriting considerations as a primary borrower. The lender will want to evaluate the co-signer’s other financial obligations, credit score, income and outstanding debt. The lender will consider the combined creditworthiness of you and your co-signer in determining how much to lend, along with interest rate and other loan terms and conditions.


  • Your co-signer's income is more important than her credit score when it comes to qualifying.

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Who Should Co-Sign?

A co-signer isn’t typically someone who will occupy the house being funded; a husband wouldn’t normally co-sign for a wife who's sharing the property, for example. A co-signer is more likely to be a financially stable close relative of one of the occupants.

Some lenders will require that a nonoccupant buyer be a blood or legal relation to the primary buyer or that the parties have a documented long-term relationship. Asking someone to take on the role is a significant request. If you default on your loan, your co-signer is on the hook for your mortgage payments, which could present a significant financial hardship to this person. Consider possible ramifications and the impact such an event could have on your relationship with a co-signer before you ask.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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