Buying a home is a challenging goal for most hopeful homeowners. But for those who have experienced a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale, the hurdles are even higher.
Still, it’s not impossible to buy a home after financial difficulties. In fact, people who have cleaned up their credit and are otherwise qualified to get a mortgage can buy a home as soon as they have outlasted a prescribed waiting period after the bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale.
Wait a while
The waiting period can last one to seven years. The one-year requirement applies to buyers who complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, have a spotless subsequent credit history and want to get a new loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The seven-year requirement applies to buyers who experienced a foreclosure and want to get a new conventional loan that can be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
In between are a number of two-, three- and four-year timelines based on similar criteria and other factors such as whether the buyer’s previous mortgage was current at the time of a short sale or the size of the buyer’s new down payment as a percentage of the home’s purchase price.
Buyers must have very clean or perfect credit histories before they can buy homes after bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale. A slip-up as small as one late credit card payment could disqualify a post-bankruptcy buyer from some loan programs, even if the waiting period has been completed.
Credit dings can be difficult to sort out for buyers who experienced a loan modification or short sale, in part because there’s “no consistency” in how lenders report those events to the credit bureaus. Buyers should review their credit reports and correct any errors or clarify the circumstances of adverse items.
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