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Foreclosure? Bankruptcy? You Might be Able to Purchase a Home Sooner Than You Think


Foreclosure? Bankruptcy? You Might be Able to Purchase a Home Sooner Than You Think

Qualifying for a mortgage loan can be a daunting task, especially for consumers with certain types of credit problems such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sales. Even if a consumer is able to rebuild his credit scores to a high enough level to satisfy a lender after one of these events (no small order), he may still be turned down for a loan until enough time has passed since the derogatory credit event before a lender will approve him for a new mortgage loan. The reason why consumers in these situations can be turned down for a mortgage even if their credit scores meet the minimum score criteria is due to the existence of mandatory waiting periods.

Not sure what your credit reports and scores look like? CLICK HERE.

Normal Waiting Periods

Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) which is the leading source of residential mortgage credit in the United States, is slower to purchase the home loans made by lenders when certain types of credit issues appear on a borrowers' credit reports. These problematic credit issues include bankruptcies, foreclosures, and foreclosure alternatives such as short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure. When these specific credit issues occur Fannie Mae requires that a mandatory waiting period be instituted so that there is a cooling off period between the time when the major credit issue occurred and when the consumer will be eligible to qualify for a new mortgage loan in the future. Lenders have to abide by the guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae if they want the ability to sell the loans to Fannie Mae instead of being forced to hold the loans on their own personal balance sheets.

Mandatory waiting periods vary based upon both the derogatory credit event which occurred (i.e. bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc.) and the type of loan for which a consumer is applying (i.e. FHA, VA, USDA, or Conventional). If a consumer has a foreclosure on his credit reports, for example, then in many circumstances he could be required to wait up to 3 years before he is eligible to qualify for a new government-backed loan (i.e. FHA, VA, or USDA) and possibly up to 7 years prior to qualifying for a conventional mortgage.

Fannie Mae routinely adjusts mandatory waiting periods for loan programs so it is always best to check with an experienced loan officer to find out the specific wait period required for the mortgage loan program which interests you. Plus your loan officer will be able to help you determine if your situation qualifies for a reduced waiting period based upon certain "extenuating circumstances." (Don't have a loan officer? EMAIL US if you would like a referral to a loan officer we know and trust.)

FHA Back to Work Program - Extenuating Circumstances

HUD's announcement of the new FHA Back to Work Program in 2013 was very good news for consumers who experienced negative "economic events" which lead to a foreclosure, short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or had filed for bankruptcy protection from their creditors. Thanks to the program, consumers who find themselves facing one of the situations above may be able to qualify for a new mortgage after a shortened waiting period. Qualified borrowers under the new program could be eligible to receive a new mortgage loan after as little as 1 year has passed since their derogatory credit event.

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for the Back to Work program consumers must be able to document the following.

1. Borrower must meet FHA loan requirements for "satisfactory credit."
2. Borrower can document the mortgage or credit problems resulted from a financial hardship.
3. Borrower has re-established a responsible credit history.
4. Borrower has completed HUD-approved housing counseling.

To qualify for the program a consumer must have credit reports and credit scores which meet the minimum requirements for approval set forth by both FHA and the lender. Next, he must be able to provide documented proof (i.e. tax returns) which demonstrates that he experienced an income reduction of 20% or more for a period of at least 6 months which lead to his derogatory credit event (i.e. bankruptcy or foreclosure). He will also need to demonstrate that he has recovered financially from the event as well. Additionally, the consumer will need to have at least a 12 month history of on-time rental payments and a 12 month credit history which is free from late payments as well.

Your Next Step

If you have taken the necessary steps to rebuild your credit after recently experiencing one of the derogatory credit events above, then you may be ready to meet with a loan officer to see if you qualify for a new FHA mortgage loan under the Back to Work Program. (Remember, if you are not already working with a loan officer you can EMAIL US if you would like a referral to a loan officer we know and trust.)

However, if you already know that you credit reports need some work before they will be clean enough to qualify for a mortgage then it is likely best for you to begin by scheduling a no obligation credit analysis with a HOPE4USA credit expert to learn what we can do together to help prepare you for your goal of homeownership.

Michelle Black is an author and a credit expert with over a decade of experience, the credit blogger at, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, and  a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, credit reporting, correcting credit errors, budgeting, and recovering from identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here.