Trying to get some info for a friend here. She's looking at getting a mortgage - her BF of many years can't join her on a joint so it'll just be her.

Am I correct in assuming that all their monthly bills will be counted just against her income, or is it possible that the mortgage company will allow his income to count in helping pay the bills?

She's going for a FHA mortgage.

If it's the former, would it help her if she got her BF to pay rent with a formal agreement (dunno if he'd even go for that since I barely know the guy)?

(Some of this extra info is also contained in the comments below)

In terms of savings it sounds like he's got about $7K cash, she has virtually nothing. His credit score is too low to be approved for a mortgage so it'll all be on her.

Also - more to add: She's only recently taken her student loans out of forbearance and she's taking the view that, as long as her mortgage + tax + PMI is broadly the same as her rent, she's good to go. Both vehicles are old and will need replacing in the not too distant future and she's only had her current job for about a year.

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    Why can't it be joint? Is it just because he has bad credit, or are there any other reasons?
    – yoozer8
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 12:27
  • 6
    @yoozer8 why in the world would she want it to be joint? Thank the good Lord that his credit is in the toilet.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:16
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    No money! Don't buy a house! AC unit fails, even if he pays (7K probably not enough) and they are both broke. Then the hot water heater goes out. Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 20:25
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    @AbraCadaver Oh, that $7K's gonna have to go for the down-payment (FHA apparently demand something like a 3% deposit). Trust me I've said all this until I'm blue in the face, and more besides, but she's gung-ho and determined. "I refuse to live in fear" I think is her response to my 'you've no savings' remark... Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 20:29
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    7k is not enough for closing costs of a reasonably priced house. A 150k house with a FHA minimum down payment of 3.5% is already at $5,250. Now add in a HUD inspection and all the closing Fees and you are talking about another $4,000 or $5,000 dollars. Since this is a FHA loan, you would also need to fix anything the HUD inspectors seems 'unsafe'. So all those numbers will be increased by how ever bad the house is. If she's stubborn have her go to a bank and have them run the numbers against the house and I bet she'll see the light.. Otherwords - Don't let her do it.
    – Jimenemex
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 14:47

3 Answers 3


Has she talked to a banker? That would be a great place to start.

Please understand that this is a hot mess in the making and as her friend, you should help her navigate through it. It is better that either she, on her own, or he on his own, buy the property. It should be communicated that the party not buying the home will have no financial interest in the home but would expect to contribute to the costs. This is the case anytime a person rents a home, they pay rent but do not experience the benefits or pains of owning the property.

Any bills in her name will count against her income to debt ratio. Bills exclusively in his name will not. These metrics are independent of who actually pays the bills. For example he might pay her car payment in lieu of rent. She would still have to count her car payment as part of her debt.

While long time boyfriend/girlfriend relationships may feel like a marriage, the courts do not agree. When a married couple buys a home joint ownership is granted (in most states) even if only one is on the mortgage. Single couples do not enjoy that same grant, and there can be some very hurt feelings when one learns that they have no interest in a property after a painful breakup or even death.

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    Oh trust me I've tried. It's even at the point she's looking at putting her BF's name on the title, despite only her being on the mortgage. Right now I'm looking at trying to stop her from making what could be the worst financial decision of her young life. Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 12:35
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    Sometimes the bankers help us from making poor decisions, she might not get approved. Also, along these lines, other friends of yours are making similar self-destructive financial decisions, because we all do. Such is life. Thanks for trying to be a good friend.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:15
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    Also found: money.stackexchange.com/questions/86707/… - that may put a kibosh on her putting his name on the title... Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:19
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    Under no circumstances should she put her boyfriend's name on the deed because then he will be entitled to half the equity if he heads for the hills. Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:31
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    @Notmyusualname "... she's looking at putting her BF's name on the title, despite only her being on the mortgage ..." - Honest question: I'm not sure I fully understand the implications here; would that mean the BF would be part owner of the house, despite not being co-responsible for the mortgage? (If so: yikes...)
    – marcelm
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 20:21

This is of course a disaster waiting to happen, and it's doubtful you will have the influence to do anything about it unfortunately (if they've been together for 15 years and yet you barely know him). Hopefully they simply won't qualify and the problem solves itself.

To directly answer your question though:

If this was a multifamily home, or an investment property, a formal rent agreement would potentially allow you to use some percentage (up to 85% of the fair market rent I believe) of that rental income as her income. I'm not sure if there are restrictions on the relationship between the renter and the rentee -- which is to say I'm not sure if the rental income can come from a significant other or not.

However, I'm guessing it is neither of those things and she is instead buying a single family home she intends to have as her primary residence. In that case none of his income can be included for calculation of the debt to income ratio.

There are also gifting rules which determine where you can get the money for the down payment from. Depending on the circumstances of her credit score and so on it may be technically against the rules of the FHA loan to use his money for the downpayment as well. But at least in the pre-mortgage crisis days no one looked at where the money was coming from too closely, I'm not sure how stringent everything is today.


She should also realize that given how the economy works today, the flexibility renting provides is an enormous benefit that really should be translated into real dollars. Home ownership got such prominence in the baby boomers generation because buying makes a hell of a lot more sense when you expect to stay at one job for your entire career and aren't expecting to move for decades, if ever. It relates to my next point on amortization.

I also wanted to add something about amortization because loan officers take advantage of the fact that most people have no idea how they work. If she were to buy a $165,000 home on a 30 year FHA mortgage, she will be paying about $840 per month. But here's the thing: most people don't hold on to a 30 year mortgage for 30 years. It's more like 5-10 and probably closer to 5. This matters because it turns the whole "renting is throwing away your money" thing into a huge falsehood. Out of that $840, only about $220 is paying the principal and the rest is interest. You don't start paying more towards loan principal than interest until 15 years into the loan!

So lets say after 7 years you decide to upgrade, or move to a new city, or whatever. You would have paid about $70,000 and nearly $49,000 of it went straight to interest payments!

Talking about it from this approach might be more effective if you are hoping to dissuade -- the numbers people use when comparing buying vs renting are very often hugely massaged in favor of buying and don't take a lot of things into account (see also my comment on repair costs).

  • It should also be stressed to her that directly comparing the raw rent costs to the raw mortgage costs is a hugely unfair comparison in favor of buying. Rent often prices in lots of monthly costs that mortgages do not, and those costs can really add up. In particular: repairs -- part of your rent is an 'insurance policy' for when stuff inevitably breaks. People who have rented their entire lives tend to not really appreciate how incredibly expensive even basic repairs can run, and how stressful it can be to find a reputable contractor who will do a good job for a reasonable price.
    – eps
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 20:29
  • eps - you are so right about everything after your "EDIT:"! I myself have never understood the "renting is throwing away your money". My parents lived in the same house for 40 years - but I sure as hell don't see that happening in the neighborhood around me now!
    – davidbak
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 22:59

The best security is in marriage. Then it's much easier to file jointly and have both of their incomes counted. Building up or repairing good credit may also be necessary. There are many very good reasons why financial institutions have respect for the stability and security that marriage provide. If the underwriters aren't comfortable with it, neither should your friends be comfortable with a needlessly risky living arrangement. Underwriters (those that don't accept subsidies, anyway) have to be accurate or their company goes under, so that's an important signal to pay attention to.

  • If you read the rest of the comments you may get an inkling in the sort of decision making skills she seems to possess when it comes to all things financial. The fact I've learned more things about FHA mortgages in 2 days than she has in 2 months should also tell you something. Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 20:11
  • With regards to the "what on earth could go wrong" mindset, it sounds naive. In the first place making the home purchase contingent on unequivocal marriage should at least mostly solve the problem of being financially manipulated. Discernment takes considerable time of prudent living to build.
    – pygosceles
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 20:16
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    Nothing about this makes any sense to me whatsoever. I brought up just one of the items others have mentioned here and she looked at me like I had three heads. Right now I fear she's suffering from 'shiny object syndrome' and is heading gung-ho into a process that will ultimately end in tears. Sadly it may already be too late for me to intervene since nothing I say now will be seen as anything other than me being negative and unsupportive. Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 20:20

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