Should I refinance before or after marriage?

Posted by  on Apr 07, 2015

Q: I own a home with about 20 years to go on a 30-year mortgage. I've been looking to refinance, but I've been somewhat distracted because I'm also getting married. What are the plusses and minuses of refinancing before I get married or after?

A: This comes down to how your new spouse will affect your financial situation, and there are two primary aspects of that impact you should look at:

  • How will marriage affect household income? If your spouse works at all, the additional income should help household income and thus make you appear more qualified for a new mortgage loan.
  • Who has the better credit rating? If you have had credit problems, it might be that getting married could help you qualify for a loan if your fiancée has a better credit history. On the other hand, if your fiancée has had credit problems, it might be better to keep him or her out of the loan-qualification picture -- which would be simpler to do if you refinance before getting married.

Keep in mind that this is not an all-or-nothing question. It isn't just that marriage might affect your ability to qualify for a loan; but even if you qualify either way, it could impact your ability to get the lowest mortgage rates.

The phrase "for better or worse" may come up in your marriage ceremony, and this also describes the impact marriage will have on your ability to refinance. It is likely to make a difference, and whether that difference is for better or for worse depends on the specifics described above.

A side benefit to exploring this question at this stage of your relationship is that it should prompt an open discussion of your finances. That may not be the most romantic conversation the two of you have had, but since marriage is a form of financial as well as romantic partnership, this conversation can help get your union off to a solid beginning.


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