Think you have to wait three to seven years after a foreclosure before you can get a new loan? You may be able to cut that in half.
Typically, you have to wait for years after a foreclosure to get the financing necessary to buy a new home, but you may be able to get a loan much sooner if you improve your credit score, budget and save. Throw extenuating circumstances into the mix, and your wait time could be even less.
Were you one of the millions of Americans that suffered a foreclosure in the last several years? If so, you are well aware that it leaves a black mark on your credit and prevents you from obtaining the financing to purchase another home for three to seven years, or longer depending on how you handle your money after the foreclosure.
But, you may be able to drastically reduce your wait. In fact, if you are able to prove that you experienced an “economic event” that caused your household income to fall by 20 percent of more for a period of at least six month, you may qualify for financing within a year. You must be able to demonstrate, though, that you have fully recovered from that event and agree to complete housing counseling prior to closing.
Whether or not you have experienced a life-changing economic event, you can take steps to shave off time from that seven-year waiting period. Here’s what you need to do.
Improve your credit score.
A foreclosure can cause your credit score to drop by up to 150 points. In order to qualify for another home mortgage, you’ll have to compensate. Start by paying your bills on time.
Thirty-five percent of the points that make up your FICO Credit Score, the standard credit-scoring model used in today’s lending environment, is based on your payment history. Just to reiterate: that’s more than one-third of your credit score. If you have a poor payment history (in other words, a lot of late payments), you’ll have trouble qualifying for any loan because your credit score demonstrates you are a risk. The folks over at USnews.com agree, saying, “Accounts that are 90 days late will have a bigger negative impact on your score than those that are 60 or 30 days late. So pay off the most past-due accounts first, and gradually catch up on all your payments.”
Reducing your debt can also have a big impact on your FICO Credit Score. In fact, at 30 percent, a lower debt to income ratio the second largest factor in determining your credit score. Having some debt isn’t necessarily bad, but how you manage it can be. Visit MyFICO.com to learn exactly how debt can affect your score.
Other factors used to determine your credit score include how long you’ve had credit, the types of credit you use (retail, installments, etc.), and whether you’ve opened any new accounts.
Create a budget.
Having a budget is key to turning your finances around. Without a budget, it’s easy to miss payments or run out of funds before the next paycheck arrives, necessitating a credit card withdrawal that increases your debt and ultimately impacts your credit score. The good news is setting up a budget is relatively easy.
First, record all your sources of income. Then, gather your financial statements, including bank statements, utility bills, credit card bills, and any other payments. Add to that a list of your monthly expenses, such as car payments, auto insurance, groceries, utilities, housing costs, entertainment, and anything else you spend money on. (Be specific.) This should give you a good indication of what’s coming in and what’s going out.
Next, total your income and expenditures and make adjustments as needed. You may find you need to cut out that double latte, or you just might find that you have some extra money every month that you can use to first reduce your debt and then to create an emergency fund. An emergency savings fund of three to six months’ worth of living expenses is key to demonstrating to a lender that you are prepared financially to manage a mortgage again.
There are several great programs and tools out there that can help you get your finances back on track, including Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Mint.com.
Choose your future housing wisely.
Let’s be honest: you probably lost your house in the first place because you bought more house than you could afford or because you didn’t have a savings buffer set aside to help you get through a financial hiccup. Your newly established budget should help you avoid repeating that mistake. Once you know how much money is coming in and how much is going out, you will know definitively what you can afford to pay for housing. Note: you should limit yourself to house payments of no more than 28 percent of your total income.
Save for a down payment.
Again, if you want to buy a house again as soon as possible after you have go through a foreclosure, it’s essential that you have a budget to help you improve your credit score and save money. Once you have your emergency account fully funded, you need to save for a down payment on your next house. How much you’ll need in the bank depends on the cost of the house you intend to purchase (since the amount of the down payment is a percentage of the purchase price) and the type of loan you will be getting. Typically, for a conventional loan, you’ll want at least 20 percent to avoid private mortgage insurance.
Use extenuating circumstances to your advantage.
The FHA made it drastically easier for homeowners who’ve suffered a foreclosure to get a new loan by shortening the wait time if there’s been extenuating circumstances. But what qualifies as an extenuating circumstance?
First, the “economic event” that led to the foreclosure must have been something beyond your control such as a job loss or illness. Also, the event must have reduced your household income by 20 percent or more for a period of at least six months. This must be documented by an FHA-approved mortgage lender using tax returns, W-2s, terminations notices, employment letters, and more.
You also have to then reestablish your credit for a minimum of 12 months after the foreclosure with no late payments or other issues, and complete at least one hour of HUD-approved housing counseling.
If you complete these steps, you will be well on your way to re-establishing a promising credit score and securing a new mortgage – even after a foreclosure.