Rebuilding the American Dream

Home Sale Hindsight

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Q: I’ve had a foreclosure in the last four years. My credit score is 580. I’m working on improving it with the help of a credit company that is working on my behalf to negotiate with creditors to reduce my debt. Will I be able to qualify as a first-time homebuyer again when I do purchase? Also, what does my credit score need to be at to qualify for financing? –Simona, California

A: Many Americans are emerging from foreclosure in the same exact situation as you now find yourself. There are a number of moving parts to your question and your scenario, so let’s take them in turn.

First, your credit score. To obtain an FHA loan, post-foreclosure, currently takes a minimum credit score of 620-640, with most major lenders.

If you can get your credit score into the 700 range, you will be able to qualify for better interest rates. FHA loans are ideal for most former homeowners with a foreclosure in their history, because of their reasonable downpayment requirements (3.5 percent minimum) and short post-foreclosure waiting period of three years, compared with conventional (i.e., non-FHA) loan programs, which require anywhere from 5 to 20 percent down, depending on your credit score, and a post-foreclosure waiting period of up to seven years before you can qualify for a new home loan.