Fiance Declared BK 4 Years Ago - Mortgage Considerations?

Fiance Declared BK 4 Years Ago - Mortgage Considerations?
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Hi - looking for some guidance here.

My fiance declared BK ~4 years ago following a waive of layoffs at her old firm, difficulty finding a new job in our existing city, and her inability to keep up with ~$15k of credit card debt she accrued during law and business school (in addition to student loans but monthly payments on those froze). We moved cities in conjunction with a job offer I received and she quickly gained employment.

Fast forward to today and we’re considering buying a house in the next year. She still has her student loans, which we’re in the process of refinancing, and we have ~$20k on a car loan and no credit card debt. We live in a high cost/high income area and currently spend $3,200 + utilities on our condo rental. With a combined income of ~$300k (and growing) we’re able to live well while still paying down her loans and saving a decent amount in a HY account + our retirement accounts.

The house/condo range we’re looking at is pretty wide at $500-800k (still deciding if we want to do the lower end to more quickly save for future investments). We would put 10-20% down.

My credit score is 780 and I don’t know hers but I assume its in the 500s. Can someone provide guidance on what we should expect when applying for mortgages after getting married?



Hi @bsob

Thanks for your question – you both seem to be in a good place financially, which is great.
I recommend checking your fiance’s credit score first, just to get an idea of where it stands. It’s likely her score has rebounded after the BK. You can check your VantageScore from TransUnion with NerdWallet. (Note that mortgage lenders are supposed to look at different, older versions of your FICO score, which you have to pay to see.)

However, her BK will stay on her credit reports for 10 years (so for 6 more years) and that will be a problem when you apply for a mortgage together. Since your credit is already excellent, it would make more sense for you to apply for the mortgage in your name. Here’s our guide to buying a home.

Good luck and please ask more questions!


@bsob, welcome. If your fiancee’s bankruptcy was four years ago, followed by credit in her name and several years of on-time payments, she may be in better shape than you think. If she qualified for student loan refinancing without you as a co-signer, she’s almost certainly in good standing.

I’m with @ajayakumar: First things first. Get her credit score (free) and find out where she stands.

If you apply jointly for a mortgage (needing both incomes to qualify), a lender will pull scores for both of you. Typically lenders pull all three scores for each of you, one from each bureau, and use the lower of the middle scores. That is, if you have a 789, a 780 and a 740, and she has a 690, a 678 and 630, your middle scores are 780 and 678. The lender will probably use the 678.

Every lender has different standards and underwriting guidelines, though, so it pays to shop around. Your low debt ratios and high income mean a lot. And you still have time to build additional positive credit history.



I noticed you mentioned that you don’t have any credit card debt. That’s great! I don’t know how much student loan debt she has(and I’m not asking). Also too, you have a car loan at 20k and and a HY & retirement account.

With all that said, I side with @des about applying for a mortgage. I side with @ajayakumar about checking her(wouldn’t hurt to check yours too)credit score.

Checking your credit score can be done a couple of ways. You can go to and get your free credit score. You can do this once a year for free. The other option is, signing up for Credit Karma and Experian. They both offer free credit monitoring. A little known secret about Experian. Experian offers Experian Boost for free(I would suggest getting it asap because there’s no telling when Experian will get wise to people using this feature and they start charging for it). How Experian Boost works is, I’m sure you pay utilities like Gas & Electric, cell phone/home phone, etc. Well, Experian Boost uses those on time payments(3 consecutive months minimum)and that will boost your score about 10 to 15 points per utility. You can’t use cash, check or Venmo to pay the bill(but, if you pay the bill with debit card tied to bank account it will accept that). You also have to add a checking account so you can get the boosts. The only downside is, this only boosts Experian Credit Score.

Here are my suggestions on the matter. Even though you have no credit card debit, credit utilization is a big factor that affects your credit score. What I would suggest is use about 10% of your credit limit but pay it off as soon as you can(preferably before the due date, usually if it’s paid on the due date you pay interest too, if I’m not mistaken). Do by all means pay it all off. Doing this will bump your score up(may not be significant but, every little bit helps).

Now concerning refinancing the student loan. That’s great, I hope you catch a break on interest. After it’s refinanced and she knows what payments are, here’s an idea. If it’s possible pay a little more than the actual payment amount. The reason I suggest this is, you won’t get slammed with the interest fees. In essence you’ll pay less interest that way and you won’t pay to much more than you borrowed. This also could be applied to the auto loan too.

Just want to say, I’m NOT a financial adviser. I’m just an average Joe, trying to repair my credit from a fabulous disaster. The information I have shared are things I’ve learned from this site and abroad. My hope is that what I share may help someone.