Great news for homeowners who experienced a short sale and are ready to buy again! HUD announced yesterday that they will reduce the wait period to qualify for an FHA backed mortgage to 1 year! Previously, the wait time to qualify for an FHA backed mortgage was 2 years following a bankruptcy and 3 years following a foreclosure or short sale. According to FHA Commissioner Carol Galante, “FHA recognizes the hardships faced by these borrowers, and realizes that their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

This of course does not mean that everyone will qualify. Borrowers must prove that they experienced an “economic event” where their household income fell by at least 20% for 6 months or longer. They must also document that they have fully recovered financially, and agree to take a housing counseling course prior to close of escrow.

This is very encouraging news for those of us who have helped clients through a short sale, as many have recovered and are ready to buy again while housing prices and interest rates are still relatively low. Reducing the wait time should also encourage overall housing market recovery as more people will be eligible for FHA financing. Likewise, this is good news if you are currently facing a short sale as you will now be able to buy again much more quickly.

If you have any questions about FHA reducing the wait time to borrow after a short sale, or short sales in general, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

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Just in time for Christmas, Fannie Mae put new rules into effect on December 13th that will make it even more difficult for homeowners who have had a foreclosure to buy again.

Under the new lending guidelines that control qualification standards for Fannie Mae backed mortgages, a borrower who has had a foreclosure will now have to wait seven years before being approved for a new mortgage.  That is up from the current wait time of four years.  Another provision of the guideline revision tightens the acceptable debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to 45%, down from 55%, and includes stricter scrutiny of all installment debt.  Under the new guidelines, even one missed payment on a credit card could mean the difference between approval, and not qualifying.  Fannie Mae currently guarantees 28% of all residential loans.

While we all understand the need to move away from the “if you have a pulse, you qualify” standards of a few years ago, these new guidelines seem downright punitive!  On one hand the Fed is pumping money into banks urging them to make more loans to stimulate the economy, yet at the same time the new regulations make it more difficult for banks to lend.   And why the increase from four to seven years?  There is no rational reason for this extended wait time.  The only thing I can figure is that this is intended to scare homeowners considering strategic default into continuing to pay an inflated mortgage on a grossly devalued home.

Although there are several provisions of the new guidelines that may benefit some borrowers, overall this is not an effective way to get the housing market back on its feet.  Thanks Fannie:  You’ve just provided one more reason why I believe we’ll continue to see an increase in short sales over the coming year.