I'm often asked "When can I buy a home after bankruptcy?" Let's take a look at that.

First, of course you have to be able to afford to buy a home. We won't deal with that here.

Then you'll need to qualify for a loan to buy a home. That's where the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) comes in. Borrowers with FHA loans pay for mortgage insurance, which protects the lender from a loss if the borrower defaults on the loan. Because of that insurance, lenders can offer FHA loans at attractive interest rates and with less stringent and more flexible qualification requirements.

After a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (the type that gets rid of your debts quickly)

You can qualify in 2 years after the "discharge of debts" in your case. That's when your debts are eliminated, and it's usually about three months after your bankruptcy case is filed. To qualify, you must have (1) re-established good credit or (2) chosen not to incur new credit obligations.

You can qualify is less time, down to one year, if you (1) can show that your bankruptcy was caused by extenuating circumstances beyond your control and (2) have since exhibited a documented ability to manage your financial affairs in a responsible manner.

After a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (a 3-to-5-year payment-plan bankruptcy)

You can qualify in one year after filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case if (1) all payments under the Chapter 13 plan have been made and (2) you receive permission from the bankruptcy court to get the mortgage loan.

Obviously this is the short version of a more-complex subject. Discuss this with your possible mortgage lenders and also your bankruptcy attorney.

If I file bankruptcy, I'll never be able to buy a car, buy a house, or buy anything I can't pay cash for. Wrong!

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