Getting back into homeownership after foreclosure
10/23/2013, 6 a.m.
BPT The housing market is re-emerging, building strength and showing signs of robustness that just a few years ago seemed almost impossible. Back then, millions of homeowners were affected by a weak economy and the inability to keep pace with the financial demands of monthly mortgage payments and the associated expenses. As a result, many faced the reality of foreclosure and short sales, threatening that crucial aspect of the American dream. But today, what started off as a glimmer of new hope in the housing sector is shining brighter, and many people who lost their homes are looking for new avenues to rebuild what they worked so hard for.
When the housing bubble burst, a staggering number of Americans were affected - 4.8 million borrowers lost a home to foreclosure while a further 2.2 million gave up their homes in short sales, according to national data by RealtyTrac. The recovery of the housing market has been slow, but the confidence of once-foreclosed-upon homeowners has grown along with it. Sixty-five percent of Americans in Fannie Mae's national monthly housing survey for April said they would rather buy a home rather than rent if they were going to move. With a new perspective on saving and making wise investments, many of those affected are now eager to get back to being homeowners.
Many former homeowners have learned difficult lessons, and their road back to homeownership will be signposted with challenges. However, it may be possible for them to regain their dreams. These tips from Wells Fargo, the nation's leading mortgage lender, may help set prospective buyers on the right path:
Talk to a reputable lender about owning a home again. Having someone on your side to help you through the process is important, but it's essential that that person has the experience and knowledge to help you make an informed, affordable lending choice. An experienced lender can explain the time limits that affect buyers who faced foreclosure or short sale; there is generally a set amount of time that needs to pass before you're eligible to be considered again for mortgage approval. Wells Fargo has a mortgage presence in 2,358 locations including stand-alone mortgage stores and other business partner sites. Go to www.wellsfargo.com/mortgage to find a home mortgage consultant near you.
Make an honest assessment of your credit situation. In the current mortgage approval environment, having a foreclosure or short sale on your financial record will affect what options you may have for loan approval. You can access your credit report from any of the three agencies by going to www.annualcreditreport.com; everyone is entitled to a free annual report. If you need help in making sense of your financial status and information on how to improve it, you can talk to a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage consultant about the My Home Roadmap(SM) service. Those enrolled in My Home Roadmap receive up to two hours of free, phone-based financial coaching from an accredited credit counseling agency, paid for by Wells Fargo. Enrollees also receive emails from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage consultants that provide useful tips and reminders on handling the financial responsibilities of homeownership.
Prepare a down payment. Homebuyers re-entering the housing market after foreclosure or short sale typically need to have a down payment - in most cases 20 percent - ready before purchasing a home. In addition to those funds, think about additional expenses you might have to pay, such as closing costs. Showing the ability to handle the financial responsibilities of homeownership beyond the monthly mortgage payment like taxes, homeowner's insurance, utilities and other household expenses will be extremely important in achieving loan approval.
Get preapproved. It's a good idea for prospective homebuyers, even those who are re-entering the market, to work with lenders who offer a pre-approval program. The preapproval process helps borrowers determine and understand their budget before diving into a home search, allowing them to shop more confidently.
Homeownership is still part of the American dream, even for those who've dealt with foreclosure. To ensure that your next home is your dream home, plan carefully, get help and take a proactive approach to answering the tough questions.