Mortgage Co-signer vs Co-borrower: What’s the Difference?

mortgage co-signer

If a bank is on the fence about approving a loan, they may ask the borrower if there is anyone who can share responsibility of the loan. Including multiple people on your loan application can increase your chances of getting the loan accepted. While many people think co-signers and co-borrowers are the same thing, these are two very different roles in the eyes of a lender. To decide which option is best for you and those helping you get the loan, it helps to compare the two roles.

A co-signer is someone who guarantees a loan for someone else. This means that the co-signer is agreeing to take responsibility for paying off the loan in the event the primary borrower fails to do so. With more resources available to pay back the loan, the lender will be more confident in receiving payment. A co-signer does not have title or ownership over any items acquired with the loan.

A co-borrower is one of at least two primary borrowers. For example, if a couple is buying a home together, they can apply for a loan as co-borrowers. Like co-signers, co-borrowers are responsible for the loan even if the other primary borrowers do not meet agreed upon payments. Unlike co-signers, a co-borrower will have an ownership interest in the property being purchased.

While both a co-signer and a co-borrower can help you when it comes to qualifying for a loan, there are some differences in the risks associated with the responsibilities of co-borrowers and co-signers.

It is important to understand as a co-signer that you are essentially taking on an all risk, no reward deal in which you could be responsible for paying off a loan with no benefit to yourself. If you co-sign to help someone buy a car, it’s their car—and if they stop paying on the loan, it is your responsibility to pay for their car. More than just paying the loan balance and interest, you can also be charged for late fees and other charges if the primary borrower has stopped making payments. Co-signing can also negatively impact your ability to borrow or your ability to get preferable terms on new lines of credit.

For co-borrowers, the risk is a little more personal. Because you are combining financial resources with someone else, co-borrowing can allow you to get approved for a loan that is much bigger than you could pay by yourself. Tragic accidents, bad break-ups, and any other number of difficult circumstances can leave you with a loan that is outside of your financial capacity. It can be very difficult to remove someone’s name from a loan, forcing you to sell the shared property or go through a time-consuming refinance in order to pay off the loan.

The bottom line is if you need someone to co-sign or co-borrow in order to secure a loan, you need to make sure it is someone you trust. Communicate fully the responsibilities associated with each role and confirm they feel comfortable adding their name onto the loan application. Keeping up regular communication with this person about the status of the loan can ensure you are on the same page, which is important since they are invested in the mortgage, too.

NJ Real Estate: Understanding the 3 Day Attorney Review Period

nj attorney review period

When it comes to NJ real estate transactions, first-time buyers or sellers can find themselves under-informed when it comes to their rights and responsibilities during the sale of a home. Real estate contracts are complex documents that may be difficult for many people to understand as well as they need to. In New Jersey, buyers and sellers have the right to a 3 day attorney review period to ensure that their best interests are being met.

 


The attorney review period is unique to New Jersey and protects both buyers and sellers from entering into unwise real estate contracts.

 

The Contract

In New Jersey, as well as in every US state, the contract is far and away the most important document in the entire real estate transaction process. Almost all real estate transactions begin with the signing of this document and it sets forth the rights and responsibilities of the buyer and seller for the remainder of the transaction. These rights and responsibilities are the essential terms of the contract and identify the following information:

  • Purchase price
  • Closing date
  • Paperwork each party must provide
  • Specific details about the sale of the property

Plans for inspections, repairs, and many other agreements between the buyer and seller will also be part of the contract. Because the real estate contract is so essential to the legal transfer of property, it is imperative that both parties utilize their legal right to an attorney review.

Attorney Review Period

The state of New Jersey allows for a 3 day attorney review period to begin after a contract of sale has been signed by the buyer and seller and a copy has been delivered to both parties. This 3 day period allows both parties ample time to retain a real estate attorney who will review the contract. The attorney will either accept/approve the contract as-is, make changes to it, or cancel it all together.

If there are changes to be made to the contract, the attorney must send a disapproval letter to the other party’s attorney for review within the 3 day review period. At the end of the allotted time period, if the contract has not been disapproved or canceled by either the buyer or the seller, both parties are henceforth legally bound by the contract.

Beware of “Legalese”

Taking advantage of the attorney review period is important for both buyers and sellers. While all real estate contracts in NJ must be written in “plain language,” the fact remains that some confusing legal concepts (legalese) will make their way into virtually every real estate transaction. Working with an experienced real estate attorney can ensure you are getting the best advice on the ins and outs and specific legal language of real estate law. You do not want to find yourself bound to a contract that includes terms that you never fully understood. The attorney review period gives you time to work closely with your attorney so that you have a solid grasp on your rights and responsibilities as set forth in the contract.

 


 Realtors are not legally permitted to give legal advice to either party engaged in a real estate contract.

 

Contract missing the Attorney Review Clause? DO NOT SIGN.

Real estate contracts will differ from realtor to realtor. Some may not even include an attorney review clause. It is important to know that in New Jersey, the attorney review period is your right as a buyer or a seller in a residential real estate transaction. If the contract does not include an attorney review clause, do not sign the contract until it has been reviewed by your attorney.

Veitengruber Law has extensive experience working with clients in the attorney review process. We know how intimidating, nerve wracking (and at times overwhelming) it can be to buy or sell a home. Our goal is to ensure that your rights are protected so you can make clear-headed, informed decisions during the real estate transaction process. Reach out to us for help at any time during your NJ real estate transaction!