Credit report can’t show half a mortgage

Dear Experian,

My son in-law and I purchased a house together in only his and my name. Can I contact the credit bureaus and let them know that only 50 percent of that dollar amount is my responsibility? That way I would have a lower credit ratio.



Dear RAE,

I am afraid you can’t do that. When you sign a joint contract you aren’t agreeing to pay half the amount. Instead, you are both agreeing to pay the full amount. By signing on the dotted line, you told the lender that if he doesn’t pay the loan, you will – the full amount, not just half. There is no such thing as half a mortgage, because you can’t own half a house.

The typical reason for you to share the loan obligation is that your son in-law very likely did not have a sufficient credit history or income to qualify for the loan by himself. The risk that he would not be able to repay the debt alone was too great for the lender to approve his application without the security of having you share responsibility.

You should never take signing your name on an account lightly, even when family members are involved. Whether is it for credit cards, apartment rent, phone service, or a house, it doesn’t matter who actually uses the service. You have total responsibility for the entire amount.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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