Don't be too quick to co-sign mortgage

If helping out family is a no-brainer, think again

The economic distress of the last year has battered the credit scores of many potential borrowers, while causing lenders to increase the scores they are willing to accept. The result is a growing number of co-signing requests. Co-signing arises when one party with good credit agrees to be liable for the debt of another party with no or poor credit.

Some co-signers have had their lives severely disrupted when the borrower for whom they co-signed stopped paying, leaving it up to the co-signer to make the loan good. Most of the mail I get on the subject is from co-signers in this situation.