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Storms never last.

And so it is with many families across America who have gone through either a short sale or a foreclosure in the past few years. Sure, going through a foreclosure or a short sale can be a little stormy, but after a period of time the storm will clear, and it will be time to buy a house again.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal popularized a catchy name for people who have gone through the storm of a foreclosure or short sale and are now ready to buy a house again — boomerang buyers. According to the WSJ, 729,000 foreclosed borrowers are now eligible to apply for an FHA mortgage, up from 285,000 in the same quarter in 2011. This number is expected to rise to 1.5 million by the first quarter of 2014.

Which means it is safe to say that millions of people in the next few years are going to ask the question: What is required in order for me to get a mortgage after a short sale or foreclosure?

Some lenders have special financing programs for people who fall into the boomerang buyer group, but the most common types of financing are FHA, VA and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loans. Here are the requirements for these popular types of loans if you have been involved in a short sale or foreclosure:

Buying a house after a short sale

If you went through a short sale and are ready to buy a home again, there are different rules depending on which type of loan you are considering, how much you are planning to put down as a down payment and whether or not you had late payments on your old mortgage before the short sale was completed.

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Mortgage VA Mortgage FHA Mortgage
Wait Time 4 years with 10 percent down or 2 years 3 years or
2 years with 20 percent down or * Immediately
2 years with 10 percent down and extenuating circumstances

You may be wondering about the *Immediately part of this grid. Yes, it is possible for someone to buy a home with an FHA loan right away if they were current on their mortgage payment at the time of their short sale or if they went into default for reasons beyond their control.

While it is possible to buy again after a short sale immediately depending on the above circumstances, the more common scenario is to wait for two years and get a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan with 20 percent down or waiting three years and getting an FHA loan with 3.5 percent down.

Buying a house after foreclosure

As with a short sale, the waiting periods are different when buying again after a foreclosure based on which type of financing you are seeking.

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Mortgage VA Mortgage FHA Mortgage
Wait Time 7 years or 2 years 3 years
3 years with extenuating circumstances

For most lenders, an extenuating circumstance is a non-recurring event that was beyond an applicant’s control that resulted in a sudden, significant and prolonged reduction in income or extreme increase in financial obligations. Such events are unpredictable, temporary in nature, out of the borrowers control and unlikely to happen again.

Using that definition as a guideline, it will be up to an underwriter to decide whether your particular situation qualifies as an extenuating circumstance.

Credit considerations

When it comes time to apply for a mortgage after a short sale or foreclosure, the waiting period required by FHA, VA or Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines is one thing — having the credit score to qualify is another, and you need to meet both requirements.

A short sale generally has less of an impact on someone’s credit score than a foreclosure. The biggest impact is caused by late payments, and the foreclosure process usually will take longer than a short sale — so there are more late payments for the credit bureaus to count. Also, how the foreclosure or short sale shows up on your credit report can make a difference. If your loan was “settled,” it will not be as harmful to your credit as if it was recorded as a “default.”

There are a few simple things you can do to clean up your credit after a foreclosure or short sale — including paying off your credit card debt, making all of your other monthly payments on time and keeping records of your on-time payments and monthly budgets showing that you have cut back on spending.

The good news is that storms never last, and depending on what kind of storm you have been through, there is a pathway to follow where you can buy a home again.

Related:

Justin McHood is America’s Mortgage Commentator and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area. You can find Justin on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. He is happy to answer any mortgage-related questions that you may have.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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