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Getting a Mortgage After Bankruptcy
Nothing in Credit is " Forever."
A bankruptcy legally can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, but its effect on your credit score can start to diminish the day your case is closed -- if you adopt responsible credit habits such as paying your bills on time, using only a small portion of your available credit and not applying for too much credit at once. You have to get and use credit to build your credit score. Living on a cash-only basis may be a smart choice for those who really can't handle credit. But if you want to rebuild your credit score, you can't sit on the sidelines.
Learn from your mistakes
(Proverbs 3:6 in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.)
Step # 1 Obtain a Copy of your Credit Report and Clean up the Derogatory items
One of biggest problems that many people have after bankruptcy is that their credit reports still show several accounts as open and overdue -- when in fact they were closed and the obligations wiped out as part of their bankruptcy. Your credit score is based on information in your credit report, so errors on your report can seriously dampen your score. We recommend using a program called Purchase Power. The program will help you correct the derogatory items that will be on your credit report.
(Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.)
Step # 2 Pay all of your Bills on Time.
Bankruptcy is a means to financial recovery. It is intended to allow you to "start over" financially. After your bankruptcy, you need to make sure that all of your bills are paid on time. If you are having trouble with an upcoming bill, DO NOT IGNORE IT. This is where most people go wrong. Call your creditors before they call you and let them know what your challenges are. If you can't get a reasonable rep on the line, ask for a supervisor, but again, do this as early as possible, not the day the bill is due or after it is late. If you are having trouble with your bills, you may need to solicit some help. You need to remember that the Mortgage company will be looking at past utility payments and rent history a long with accounts listed on your credit report.
- Make sure you pay all of your bills with a Check. If you pay in cash the mortgage company will not able to document your payment history.
(Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.)
Step # 3 Have a strong documented Rental History.
This is critical as it is most likely the largest monthly expense that you have. The people that actually sign off on your loan's approval will look very hard at how you have paid your rent as they are going to replace it with a mortgage payment of equal or greater size. It is very important to be able to document your rent payment history very specifically. The Best way to document this is with cancelled checks for the last 12 months rent. If you pay with cash or money orders, please stop doing this immediately and start paying with checks. Simply put, this is hurting you because by filing a bankruptcy you have already shown some financial instability. Paying your rent with cash or money order shows further financial instability and will not give you the positive rent history that the underwriter is looking for to give them the confidence in approving your loan.
(Proverbs 24:27 Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.)
Step # 4 Apply for a Secured credit card.
Most recent bankrupts have trouble qualifying for a regular, unsecured credit card. So the best solution usually is a secured card, which generally gives you a credit limit that's equal to an amount you deposit at the issuing bank. Typically, that's $200 to $500, which may seem like a pittance compared with the credit limits you enjoyed before your bankruptcy. But don't make the mistake of using your available credit. Maxing out your credit cards hurts your credit score. You want to pay the balance off in full each month. Light, regular use of a credit card is what helps build your credit. And contrary to what you might have heard, you typically don't need to carry a balance or pay credit card interest to build your score, since the leading credit scoring formula doesn't distinguish between balances that are paid off and balances that are carried month to month. Get in the habit now of not charging more than you can pay off every month.
- No application fee and reasonable annual fee. Some secured cards tack huge upfront and annual charges onto their accounts; you don't need to pay these to build your credit.
- Reports to the major credit bureaus. You're not doing your credit score any good unless your payment history is being reported to the three major bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Call and ask if the card issuer regularly reports to all three before you apply.
- Converts to an unsecured card after 12-18 months of on-time payments. Good behavior should get you upgraded to a regular credit card within a year or two.
(Proverbs 21:17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.)
Step # 5 Resist the urge (or encouragement) to buy a car.
Some may tell you that this is the best way to rebuild your credit. The problem is that your interest rate will be so high, that your payments will make your debt ratios higher than normal, making it harder to qualify for a mortgage. Do you remember the figure of 45-50% of your Gross monthly income that the bank will allow you to use towards your debts? This will quickly be absorbed by a car payment. Only buy a car if a you NEED (not want) a car, and you have the income to cover the car payment, any of your current debts, We have seen SEVERAL people that have cars rather than homes because they went out and bought a car that they could not sell and their debt ratios were too high to qualify for a mortgage. It would be a shame to have a nice car (that depreciates daily), as opposed to a more humble car along with a mortgage on a home that gives you a tax break, and increases in value over time.