Buying a Home After Bankruptcy

Types of Bankruptcy

Americans can undergo several types of bankruptcy proceedings, but the two most common are known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out all of your debt (with a few exceptions) while filing a Chapter 13 obligates you to pay back your debts over a period of three to five years.

The courts won’t allow you to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have enough disposable income to pay your debts every month.

So, which process is the better choice for someone hoping to purchase a home sooner rather than later? While there is some disagreement, many experts say that a Chapter 7 is your best choice because the process is quicker, it immediately lowers your debt-to-income ratio, and it gives you a clean foundation on which to build good credit.

Debt and Credit

Aside from a chunk of cash to use as a down payment, the biggest issue standing in the way of many would-be homeowners – whether bankrupt or not – is their debt. Lenders scrutinize an applicant’s finances to determine her debt-to-income ratio – how much money comes in compared to how much goes out every month.

Naturally, if what you are paying out is larger than your income, you’ll have problems paying your debts, and as a result you most likely have bad credit and a low credit score.

Lenders will tell someone in this situation that to purchase a home with a mortgage, he’ll need to get rid of some debt and rebuild his credit. Now, unless he is expecting a windfall inheritance, this is a process that may take years – unless he files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Yes, the fact that you discharged your debts in bankruptcy will end up on your credit reports. Yes, the bankruptcy will lower your credit score. The 2005 Experian National Score Index study shows that Americans with a bankruptcy on their record have an average credit score of 604, while those without the ding average 677. Your score will depend in large part on what it was before you discharged your debts.

You are now a subprime borrower and will pay more for any credit that you receive, initially. To build a new credit rating, however, you will need to responsibly use credit, such as credit cards. The good news is that since you can’t file for bankruptcy for eight years after the discharge of your current case, you are considered a good credit risk to some companies.

Obtaining credit again and using it responsibly is the baby step you need to take toward purchasing a home after bankruptcy.

How Long Does It Take?

The length of time it will take to purchase a new home after bankruptcy varies. A rule of thumb is that you should expect to wait from 18 to 24 months after the discharge.

It also depends on how much you want to pay for the mortgage. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you’ll be offered. Borrowers with a FICO score of 620 to 639 pay, on average, 1.5 to 2 percent more interest on a mortgage loan than borrowers at the top of the FICO score range (760 to 850). Because of this, you may want to wait a bit longer to get your score into a better range.

For instance, with a $200,000 mortgage, the lower FICO score borrower will pay $192 a month more for the home than a borrower in the upper range of FICO scores. Even getting your score to between 700 and 759 will save you $166 a month and more than $69,000 in interest over the life of the loan, according to

The Quick Turnaround

If you just can’t wait to purchase a home, or your credit wasn’t impacted too negatively, a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration may be the solution for you.

The FHA has a special program for applicants who have a bankruptcy on their record. The typical wait time after bankruptcy to obtain FHA insurance is two years. If you can prove that the cause of the bankruptcy was a set of circumstances beyond your control that reduced your income by 20 percent or more for at least six months, and these circumstances most likely won’t happen again, you may be approved for an FHA-backed mortgage one year after your bankruptcy is discharged.

You will still need to re-establish credit during that year and be able to prove that you are responsible enough to repay a mortgage loan. If you filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, FHA requires documentation from the lender showing one year of payouts under the bankruptcy agreement and that you’ve made all your payments on time. You will also need permission from the court to obtain a mortgage.

After bankruptcy, it may be emotionally draining to be unable to obtain credit for a period of time. Thankfully, with strategic planning and some hard work, you will be able to purchase a home sooner rather than later.


Tom Bell - November 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Chapter 7 is very suitable to buy a home even as a bankrupt, it give more time to repay the loans. The initiative steps from Federal Housing Administration for the solution of bankrupts is appreciated.

alicia potts - November 15, 2014 at 12:30 am

I want to buy ahouse or buling

Jane schat - September 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I like the area behind Hilo Hosptial .