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Can I have a co-signer on a mortgage when buying a co-op?

Do your due diligence to find the right bank—and co-op board—for your situation.

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Question:

Can I have a co-signer on a mortgage? If so, will it hurt my chances of getting approved by a co-op board?

Answer:

Yes, you can have a co-signer—sometimes also called a non-occupant co-borrower—if you're unable to get approved for a mortgage on your own. You'll likely also find co-op boards that will accept your application. However, not all banks or boards will accommodate your situation, our experts say.

It's not unusual for young, first-time home buyers, or buyers whose tax returns may not reflect their real income, to have parents or other relatives co-sign their loans.

Keep in mind that co-signers must also be on the title to your apartment, which means technically they will be a co-owner of the property. They take on some risk, as well: If you can't keep up with mortgage payments, for instance, it will damage their credit, so make sure you're truly able to take on the loan.

Furthermore, some major lenders do not accept co-signers, so you'll have to do a bit of extra research. 

Banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank allow non-occupant co-borrowers, as do many credit unions, according to NerdWallet. However, co-op boards can reject applicants with co-signers, so you'll want to find out about a board's policy before you apply.

"Co-signers can be considered for qualified mortgage applications," says Brittney Baldwin, vice president of National Cooperative Bank (a Brick sponsor). "That being said, if you are looking to purchase in the co-op, I suggest having upfront conversations to see if the co-op has certain criteria for the board approval process."

As with any home purchase, you need to do your research and take care with your application, but your situation is not terribly tricky, says Julie Teitel, senior loan officer with TIAA Bank: "You just have to do the due diligence ahead of time."


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