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How do you know when to buy?

Here is my scenario:
-fairly high income and would like/need tax credit
-pay around $1000 / month in rent
-married with stable job history
-net income around 150k
-foreclosure 3 years ago, moved across country for work and bank wouldn't allow short sale. (House in Arizona, had depreciated to less than half of note)

My questions:
1. How do you know exactly how long since your bank officially foreclosed on your house? I haven't lived in the house in over 5 years, but much of that time was attempting to short sell while I was still current on payments.
2. We still have 30k in student loans that we plan on paying off by December. Would it be better to continue paying them off aggressively to lower our debt to income ratio to just our cars, or start paying just the minimums to have a 20% down payment for a house and longer revolving credit on our credit history?
3. I've read the zillow list of FHA loans pros and cons, but is there any advantage to putting 10% down and getting a conventional loan (over the 3.5% down FHA government sponsored loans)? The financial difference seems minuscule... am I missing something? 
4. I bought a car 1 year ago, put 5k down and did not need a co-signer or any assistance financing it (they gave me 0% APR), I was surprised that my foreclosure was not on my credit when they pulled it. Is this something unique for car dealerships? Should I check my credit report to see if the foreclosure is already gone or could this just be a fluke in 1 of the 3 scores?
  • August 19 2013 - Birmingham
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Answers (2)

FHA has just changed the waiting period after a foreclosure or short sale to 1 year provided you can show certain financial hardships which caused the problem and that the problems are no longer an issue for you.  Do not go to any of the major banks for this, they will not spend the extra time this loan will need.  Be ready to prove everything you tell them.
  • August 20 2013
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1) Check the County website where your property was located. Many counties have free online access to legal recordings on a property. Make sure that it has been at least 3 years from the date that the property was deeded/transferred out of your name. It doesn't matter when you moved out.
2) Payoff highest interest loans first and/or those that have the highest payment.
3) FHA has the shortest wait period after a foreclosure at 3 years (unless you're a Vet). Other than that, right now, 4 years is the mark with a Freddie loan with 10% down.
4) Get your credit run by a mortgage pro. This is the only guide that you need to start the process for a home purchase. Auto dealers have a different model (no pun intended). By the way, the foreclosure won't be "gone" for quite a few years. It's going to haunt you for a while, but the more time you put between that unfortunate event will benefit your scores.
  • August 19 2013
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