Q: How long do I have to wait after a foreclosure to buy a property?
A: There is no wait to "buy a property" per se, as you can always pay with cash. However, if you need financing, the answer is "it depends." If you walked away from your last home it could take as long as seven years for you to again be eligible for a new mortgage from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but recent changes after the housing market meltdown may shorten that time considerably.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac guidelines
If your foreclosure was the result of "Extenuating Circumstances," this waiting period could be as short as only three years for a Fannie or Freddie-backed loan, according to guidelines outlined in Fannie Mae Announcement SEL-2010-08 ("Underwriting Borrowers with a Prior Foreclosure"), but you'll need to come up with a 10 percent down payment, and your credit of course will need to be solid.
If the foreclosure was through no fault of your own -- you had a drop in income, job loss, etc. -- the FHA has instituted a "Back to Work" program where there may be a relatively short waiting period of perhaps a year.
To be eligible for this program, you'll have to been beset upon by an "economic event" which resulted in a loss of income of 20 percent or more for at least six months... and you'll have to have re-established credit for a minimum of 12 months (foreclosure has cleared, and no other derogatory incidents over that time span).
You'll also have to take a HUD-approved housing counseling course.
A 25-year expert observer of the mortgage and consumer debt markets, Keith Gumbinger has been cited in thousands of articles covering a wide range of consumer finance and economic topics in outlets ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Bottom Line newsletters. He has been a featured guest on national broadcasts for CNN, CNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and has been heard on NPR and other national and local radio programs. Keith is the primary researcher and writer for HSH.com's MarketTrends newsletter and has authored or co-authored a number of consumer guides on mortgages, home equity, refinancing and more.