Sunday, August 22, 2010

Credit Recovery after Short Sale or Foreclosure:

Position Yourself to Purchase a Home Within 2 Years After a Foreclosure Using This Strategy:

Generally, buyers who have past credit issues due to a financial crisis may be able to buy a home within three years from the incident. This varies by loan type and lender. Most lenders have their own underwriting guidelines on what they will accept and when. 620-640 FICO is the starting point for government insured loans. So for anyone going down this path, consider the recovery time to get your credit back into lending territory and note the recovery steps at the bottom of this post. Put them on your refrigerator! Given the sheer number of people in financial distress right now, consider that loan guidelines may change in the coming years.

For more distressed borrower information, visit our other blog:

How soon can you buy a home again?
If you default on your home loan now, the clock starts ticking when the home is transferred to a new lender. NOT unfortunately, the date your foreclosure is registered. If you were able to keep making your payments or miraculously did not have months of ‘late payments’ pile up on your credit you could theoretically apply for a new mortgage right away. How an underwriter views your situation is very much up to your risk factors and the lending bank’s mood (as always!).

Basically you may start considering home ownership again within three years. Some more conservative banks will say seven years because they are selling your loan to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It all depends on how credit worthy you become after your loss.

Myth: "Short Sales affect your credit less than Foreclosure"
For anyone enduring months waiting for their home to successfully sell in this market; understand this: Foreclosures and Short Sales have very similar effects on your credit! 120 days of late mortgage payments (while in short sale mode = not making payments) have a very similar FICO score effect as a foreclosure. Since, on average, a short sale takes from 6 to 13 months - month after month, your credit continues to tank with each successive late; and each late is fresher and fresher piling up red marks against you (recent negative impacts have more effect on your score than older ones). Your score can only start recovering when the late payments stop and your home is sold.

In some short sale transactions -- you may also be left with a debt to pay back (the short fall the bank is owed) so be very careful about negotiating your final terms. Definitely get legal advise before you agree to any terms! Also forgiven debt is considered income by the IRS--so again get legal advise and have your accountant weigh in on this also.

Fannie Mae Guidlines are the toughest after Foreclosure:
After Foreclosure, Fannie Mae requires 7 years of good credit history and a minimum 680 FICO score, with 10% down payment and some limits on refinancing. This is after your foreclosure completion date. After a Short Sale Fannie Mae is willing to fund a home purchase in 3 years depending on hardship factors. If you filed for Bankruptcy that could easily extend your wait time a year or more. Similar caveats will apply. Expect a higher interest rate and a grilling at loan application if you expect to apply for a conventional loan.

Deed in Lieu requires 4 years recovery time from the day you walk away. If you compare the fact that a Short sale can take a year or more, a Deed in Lieu may be similar timing to a Short Sale because you are still on title with a short sale until a new buyer is found, i.e., the date the home is sold. The moment you hand over the keys in Deed in Lieu you are off title and onto recovery which may feel a lot quicker in many ways.

FHA and VA and USDA guidelines
Government lenders will often consider a home purchase for anyone with a solid credit recovery story within 2-3 years from the event, or less with some exceptions, like disability. Individual banks have their own 'overlays' on what they accept in terms of credit score and recovery times.

Essentially you could be back in a home in two years with other factors in your favor.

Private sellers may be less concerned about credit or offer a Lease to Purchase Option for those few recovery years. Just be careful and have an attorney look over ANY private sales contract. So start now to rebuild your credit!

Stick to your Recovery Strategy from DAY ONE!
1. Build an on time rental history for two years with landlords who will vouch for you
2. Maintain a stable income and work history for two years
3. Manage three active accounts responsibly (1 credit card, 1 auto payment, 1 store card or gas card)
4. Keep up to date tax records if you are self employed 
5. Put a budget in place and rebuild your credit from day one after your financial crisis has passed.
6. Work with a Mortgage Lender who will help monitor your progress.
7. Get prequalifed (by your Lender) at least three months before you start home searching in case any old issues pop up on title or your credit.

To your prosperous future!

© 2010 susan templetonr