The dream of homeownership doesn't have to end when you sell your home through a short sale. Underwater homeowners, who sell their homes for less than what they owe, can qualify for a home loan again.
They'll need persistence and strong credit discipline, says Jennifer Lusk, a California resident who sold her home through a short sale in 2010 and last year was able to get a mortgage to buy another home.
Lusk had to sell her home through short sale after her husband had a back injury and they could no longer afford their $2,500 monthly mortgage payments.
Her second try at homeownership didn't happen overnight.
"We checked on what the laws were for purchasing after a short sale and learned that our credit had to be high enough if we wanted to do a conventional loan and that we had to wait two years from the closing date," she says.
Today, the couple lives in a "beautiful home" in Terra Bella, Calif. Their monthly mortgage payment is less than $900.
In today's tight lending environment, many homeowners tend to think it's nearly impossible to qualify for a mortgage after a short sale, says Scott Schang, manager at Broadview Mortgage Katella in Orange, Calif.
"After a short sale, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not far away," Schang says.
Minimum requirements to get a mortgage after a short sale
Short sellers normally have to wait at least two years after closing the short sale to qualify for a mortgage. But the time frame and requirements vary depending on the type of the loan and the down payment, Schang says.
The minimum wait period and down payment requirements to get a conventional home loan after a short sale are:
Two-year wait with a 20 percent down payment.
Four-year wait with a 10 percent down payment.
Seven-year wait with less than 10 percent down payment.
For Federal Housing Administration loans, there's a three-year waiting period from the short sale closing date, and homebuyers can get a mortgage with as little as 3.5 percent down. Those who qualify for a Veterans Affairs loan have to wait two years and are not required to make a down payment.
Yes, you can get another mortgage, even if you let your last home go for less than what you owed, in a short sale.
It will take some patience to qualify for a home loan after a short sale. You normally have to wait at least two years. Plus, you'll need at least a 20 percent down payment, unless you're willing to wait even longer.
Four years from your short sale closing, you'll be able to put 10 percent down to get a conventional mortgage; seven years after your short sale, you can get away with a down payment of less than 10 percent.
For a Federal Housing Administration loan, there's a three-year waiting period from the short sale closing date, and homebuyers can get a mortgage with as little as 3.5 percent down. Those who qualify for a Veterans Affairs loan have to wait two years and are not required to make a down payment.
If a new lender gives you trouble, check your credit report to make sure your short sale was not incorrectly reported as a foreclosure.
FHA is the shortest route for buyers with less than 10 percent down, Schang says.
"After the waiting period, borrowers can qualify for the same FHA loan as the person who never had a foreclosure or short sale," Schang says.
But many lenders may want to know the circumstances under which the homeowner opted for a short sale, says Julie Flatland, vice president of credit at Carrington Mortgage Services in Santa Ana, Calif.
Take two borrowers: one who had to short sell because of a job transfer, and another who chose to do a short sale to dump an underwater mortgage. Lenders often view the first buyer, who did a short sale because of a job transfer, as less of a risk, Flatland says.
"As a lender, we want to make sure the borrower is not taking advantage of the declining market," Flatland says. "So we're going to ask for documentation showing that they really had no alternative other than short sale."
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