Can You Separate Income and Credit?

October 11, 1999, Revised November 16, 2006, Reviewed January 28, 2011

"My wife and I would like to purchase a house large enough for my mother to live with us. While my income is large enough to qualify for the mortgage we need, my credit is poor. I have been told to list my mother as the primary borrower because her credit is good, with me as co-borrower. Considering that her only income is social security, would this work?"

No. The lender is concerned with the credit of the borrower or borrowers whose income is being used to qualify. That means you.

From the lender's standpoint, good credit on the part of a party without the means to pay is of no use. If your mother doesn’t have enough income to qualify on her own, her good credit is not going to help you.

Note that if the income of two co-borrowers is necessary to qualify, lenders will use the credit of the co-borrower with the lower score.

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