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Can I Buy a House After Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy might seem like the end of the world, or at least the nuclear apocalypse for your credit report. After you’ve been dragged through bankruptcy court, you might think your chances of getting a mortgage loan are zero.

The truth is, you can repair your credit history, qualify for mortgage loans, and buy a house even after filing bankruptcy.

In this article, we’ll show you a few things to give you hope:

  • How long you might have to wait after your bankruptcy filing.
  • The types of conventional loans and other options you may have in the future.
  • Steps you can take to raise your credit scores to satisfy a mortgage lender.

Let’s start by looking at how long it might take to recover after you’ve made it through bankruptcy court.

How Long After Bankruptcy Can You Buy A House?

The first requirement for a mortgage loan is to secure your bankruptcy discharge. Once the judge discharges your bankruptcy, the clock starts ticking down toward the day when the waiting period is over and you can buy a house.

There are two main types of bankruptcies, so let’s cover how long the waiting period is for each one.

The Waiting Period After a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form and the one most people think of when they imagine a bankruptcy. While this is going to put a big mark on your credit report, you can recover after a waiting period and apply for a home loan.

The basic time limit after a bankruptcy court discharges your case is four years for a conventional loan.

There may be other options, though. USDA loans require less time after court, with a waiting period of only three years. Government insured loans, such as FHA loans and VA loans, are easier to qualify for and only require a two year waiting period.

The Waiting Period After a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not as serious as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but it will still impact your credit history and make it difficult to secure conventional loans. The waiting period is still roughly the same for a conventional loan, though.

What can complicate matters is the difference between a bankruptcy dismissal and a discharge. A discharge is preferable because it is a clean finish and you will no longer be liable for your debts. When a dismissal happens, the case is dismissed and you are still liable for your debts.

A government backed loan program is easier than going to private mortgage lenders. The waiting period for a USDA loan is only one year. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and Veterans Affairs (VA) loans only require your case to be discharged or dismissed before you apply.

Waiting Periods for Multiple Bankruptcies

If you file for bankruptcy more than once in seven years, then you must wait longer. The waiting period is extended to five years, although this could be reduced to three years if you can prove extenuating circumstances.

What Type Of Mortgage Loan Can You Get After Bankruptcy?

After your bankruptcy filing, you can still apply for a conventional loan or FHA and VA loans. The credit score requirements and waiting periods may vary, though.

Let’s start sorting through the options available to you.

Loans After a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Qualifying for any loan after a bankruptcy is going to require work to repair your finances so you meet the minimum credit score requirements. Waiting periods also apply, so you will have time to work on your credit scores.

Conventional Mortgage

To get a conventional mortgage after bankruptcy, you’ll need to meet the lender’s minimum credit score and all the requirements from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHA Mortgage

FHA loan rules mean you’ll need to wait two years after a discharge date to apply for FHA loans. If you can demonstrate extenuating circumstances, then waiting periods for an FHA loan can be shortened to one year.

VA Mortgage

You’ll also need to wait two years to apply for a VA loan. This can also be shortened if you can show there were problems beyond your control. Also, if your bankruptcy was caused by the failure of a self-employed business and you have now become fully employed, then you could apply for a mortgage straight away.

USDA Mortgage

The USDA may analyze your credit score and personal finance situation more carefully if your bankruptcy was discharged less than three years ago. If you have repaired your credit score and your bankruptcy was caused by issues beyond your control, then you may be able to qualify sooner.

Loans After a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

A chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven years. During this time, you’ll need permission from the bankruptcy court to get a mortgage. Usually, your Chapter 13  gives you three to five years to pay your debts and then it is discharged. After your debts have been discharged, then you can secure a mortgage after several more years.

Conventional Mortgage

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae requirements mean you will need to wait two years after the discharge of a chapter 13 bankruptcy to get a loan from a normal mortgage lender. If your case is dismissed, then the waiting time will increase to four years.

FHA Mortgage

To secure an FHA loan, you’ll need to wait at least twelve months after you begin the repayment plan of your chapter 13 bankruptcy. You’ll also need written permission from the court to get a mortgage. If this is your plan, then you may want to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you through the paperwork.

VA Mortgage

Securing a VA loan requires you to have completed at least twelve months of your chapter 13 repayment plan.

USDA Mortgage

USDA loans are similar to VA loans because you must have completed at least 12 months of successfully making your monthly payments under your plan. Keeping your payments on time makes you eligible, but you’ll still need to apply and be approved.

How To Apply For A Mortgage After Bankruptcy

Securing a mortgage after bankruptcy isn’t impossible, but it may take a bit more paperwork and legwork to make it happen.

Here are four steps you can take to put yourself in the best position to get a loan.

Step 1: Increase Your Low Credit Score

Bankruptcy happens after things go wrong. Putting things right again will take a bit of work, but you can do it. Here are three priorities you should follow to get back on track.

  • Build your credit again, but smarter. Use a secured credit card to establish new credit responsibly. Don’t build up a huge amount of credit card debt, exceed your credit limit, or miss your payments.
  • Ditch debt completely. Don’t take on any new debt and do everything you can to pay off any debts you still have, especially unsecured debt. This means you should not apply for a personal loan, car loan, or take on any new unsecured debts.
  • Don’t miss any payments. We know it seems simple, but make all your payments on time. This is especially true for any chapter 13 payments, but it applies to every account.

Step 2: Explain Your Bankruptcy

After your bankruptcy, you can write a letter to give to a mortgage lender. They are not obligated to read it, or take it into account. It may help, though. Here are some things to include:

  • Explain the circumstances that led to your bankruptcy. You should be able to describe the crisis that led to your bankruptcy. If there were circumstances beyond your control, try to explain them.
  • Describe the changes in life since the bankruptcy. Detail the changes in your life since the bankruptcy, because this is the section a lender may be most interested in.
  • Tell them about your new financial situation. If possible, describe the plans you have made to repair your credit score, change any bad financial habits, and develop a healthier approach to money.

Step 3: Seek Pre-Approval

Being pre-approved by a bank can let real estate agents and sellers know you are serious. They also demonstrate your ability to secure the funds you need to buy a house. Pre-approval will also help you secure a favorable interest rate and let you set a budget for your house search.

To get pre-approved, you may need some documents such as your last two W-2 papers, bank statements, and recent pay stubs.

Step 4: Talk with Your Lender

The bank may want to ask questions about your bankruptcy. Be sure you are responsive and polite. The questions may help calm any concerns the lender has over a potential loan. Simply be honest, respond promptly, and you will be fine.

Conclusion

Buying a house after bankruptcy seems difficult, but it is certainly possible. Repair your credit score, make smart choices, and choose a sympathetic lender. If you have more questions or need help filing for bankruptcy, please contact a bankruptcy attorney, such as Stiberman Law today at (954) 922-2283 or fill out the form below.

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