You may apply for the loan without using your wife, if you do not need her income to qualify.
Remember the credit score is one factor in deciding on a loan approval. Other items examined are:
Debt to income ratio
Down Payment amount
Now with regards to the community property issue. If you buy the home without your wife on the loan she may have to sign a quit claim deed in order to get the loan funded. You can in turn sign a grant deed adding her to the title.
Your escrow officer can take care of both deeds for you. In this case your wife would only be off title for a few days.
If you need your wife's income, then she has to be on the loan.
Best of Luck To You!!!
Kawain Payne, Realtor