You shouldn't have a problem, especially since it's your wife you are adding. In fact, since you are in California, a community property state, if you buy real property when you are married and your spouse is NOT on title, your spouse would have to sign a document stating she is aware that she will not be on title and she is ok with that. This might require a notorized document, needing the original, not a scan or photocopy.
That means it's actually easier to add her than to leaver her off. You can either add her right now with an addendum or outside of contract just after closing (or anytime you are ready) with a Quit Claim Deed.
If you choose to add her right now with an addendum, make it clear on the addendum that the person whose name is being added is the spouse, not a stranger. When you add a spouse, you have no issues. If you were to completely change the buyer to an unrelated stranger that would be scrutinized as a straw (fake) buyer being replaced by a real buyer.
For example, the addendum could read something like:
"Wife Jane Doe to be added to contract and will sign all future documents. Vesting will be "John and Jane Doe as Community Property"
If it's an REO you are buying, then ask the title rep or listing agent what the bank wants. Different banks may want different wording. For example, one bank asks for something like "Wife Jane Doe to be added as buyer to purchase agreement CAL HFA contract dated x/x/2011.
If you prefer to do this outside of contract after close of escrow (perhaps a day later), then you can either do it yourself working with the county or ask escrow to help you.
You can do one of two things. First, I would ask the listing agent if the bank would be willing to sign an addendum that would add your wife as a buyer. If they say yes and actually sign an addendum to that effect, tell the title company right away so they can prepare your closing documents accordingly. If the bank does not agree, or if it becomes too complicated, you can ask the title company to prepare a grant deed transferring title from you to you and your wife (as joint tenant or community property or however else you want to do it) and record it immediately after the transaction records. Either way it should be pretty simple and nothing to panic about.
Since this is an all cash deal to purchase an REO property, you have a couple of options:
1. Work with your Realtor to add your spouse's name to the contract via an addendum to the California Purchase Agreement. This might slow the bank down and could disrupt your closing date, so be aware of the consequences for asking for additional paperwork to be reviewed and approved.
2. Wait until the transaction has closed and have your spouse's name added to the deed via a Quit Claim Deed. Talk with the title company about this process. You may need an attorney or real estate paralegal to assist you in completing and having this form recorded.
Either way, this seems fairly simple to resolve and certainly could be done in the 10 days remaining on the contract.
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty