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Buyers Being Creative In A Soft Real Estate Market With A Challenged Credit History

The stars have lined up against many would be buyers with the amount of baggage they bring to the table in the way of challenged credit. They want to buy something. They need to buy something. Whether it be a recent bankruptcy, repossession, foreclosure, large medical bill collections, identity theft or judgements or recent unemployment any one of which can plummet a credit score and put the would be buyer in a financial hole. In a soft real estate market where owners need to sell and have a high degree of motivation to dispose of their property. This is the opportunity that a buyer with challenged credit history can seek to “help” a seller out of their current dilemma by arranging sale terms that will help both buyer and seller. These scenarios may not work for anyone who has zero options, zero income and zero means to pay anything back. It is rather, for those who are fighting their way back and do have options, have income and now have means to meet their obligations on a negotiated deal. This will not work if a buyer throws their hands up and gives up to the possibility of buying a property. This opportunity will work for those buyers who have a need as well as a burning desire in their belly to buy something that will meet their family goals and will do what is necessary to make it happen.

A buyer needs to be aggressive in their efforts to take advantage of this temporary real estate market. Some areas of the country have more opportunities than other areas. However, there are deals in every area. A buyer needs to find them. There is little reward for a buyer to deal with an unmotivated seller. There must be pressure on the seller to move the property. Whether it be for reasons of health, estate situation, job loss, divorce, out of state move, downsizing, upsizing, budget, cash flow or other reasons if a buyer with checkered credit has a shot of doing something. A buyer early on will need to come to the conclusion that the chance of matching the perfect house with the perfectly motivated seller will be slim. Therefore, from the get go the buyer must be willing to compromise on the purchase. The buyer must realize that this is not the last home they will buy, it is the first home they will buy with a high degree of challenged credit. The buy decision, although well thought out, must recognize the purchase is not permanent and is not fatal. It is simply a means to get into a property and get on the equity accumulation train, which will help them over time. So the search begins to find a motivated seller while being somewhat flexible while not having unreasonable expectations that will not fly with the current credit circumstances.

Buyers can try to do it themselves or choose to bring in a professional realtor who knows the market. Right now a lot of realtors have a lot of time on their hands. Six months ago when the market was raging, that was not the case. What a difference a day makes. The criteria then on a broad based approach would be to find a vacant home, on a realtor lock box, with a lower mortgage balance and with a high seller motivational to move the property. If a property is not listed, then the seller may not be motivated enough for a buyer’s purposes. They are not serious enough. If a property has had three or four price reductions in the last few months in the Multiple Listing Service this would be a sign of a motivated seller. Likewise if a seller has indicated a willingness to pay for buyers closing costs, hold a second mortgage, consider a lease option or a lease purchase, these are all signs of the degree of seller motivation necessary for a buyer with challenged credit to find a workable property. Early on in the realtor selection process, a working relationship must be established with a realtor who is willing to make multiple offers and does not take rejection personally until an acceptable deal can be negotiated.

At the same time, a mortgage broker will need to be contacted to determine exactly what is possible in the way of a first mortgage. Banks are not geared to do what will be required to make a deal with challenged credit. It will be assumed that in spite of the past history, the buyer now can make a monthly mortgage payment and may even have some cash to work with. Cash can be gifted from parents or other sources if necessary. The results of the mortgage broker interview will dictate what and how the deal will need to be structured. Pulling credit will determine if the housing history is 0 x 30 (meaning no housing payments more than 30 days late in the last twelve months) or worse. Collections, judgements, repossessions or any other adverse challenge the buyer may face will be noted. From this exercise, a buyer will have a payment number in hand for their monthly housing expense including principal and interest, taxes and insurance and perhaps a maintenance fee (as found in an association or condo) all inclusive in the monthly housing expense. The mortgage broker and realtor will need to work in tandem to structure the deal that is achievable on part of the buyer. Many times, in the market place the deal is negotiated without any thought to the financing. Here it will be necessary to fix the financing first THEN find the house. Most buyers with a 580 score or better can get a 95% Loan To Value first that allows a 100% Combined Loan To Value. This will no doubt be a subprime type loan with the first being one loan with no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). An offer might look like something like this:

Purchase price would be at say 5,000 with a 95% LTV first mortgage of 3,750 and allow a 5% LTV seller held second of ,250. The rate on the first would be for this scenario 8.5% on the first and aggressively negotiate the same for the seller held second or less. A seller may rationalize that they were going to reduce the price another ,000 in 30 days anyway and this way I get most of their cash now. Following then, the first mortgage of 3,750 with a rate of 8.5% with payments on a 2-year fixed ARM of ,643.55/month. The second of ,250 at say 8% on a 10 year basis would be 5.95/month for a total principal payment of the first and second of ,779.50/month plus taxes of 0/month and insurance of 0/month for a total housing expense of ,299.50/month in housing expense. With a subprime loan, collections and such are not included in the debt service calculation if they are old enough. So for a working couple if the lender allows a 50% debt ratio to income the minimum income on a full documented loan would be ,299.50/. 50 = ,599/month. Say the wife makes ,000 per month and the husband makes ,599/month then they would just make it. The seller would need to pay all the buyers closing costs and prepaids (tax and insurance escrows and advanced fees) and any buyer cash can be used for monthly lender reserve requirements.

In summary then, this is a temporary buyer’s market in most areas and to be successful buyers need to focus on motivated sellers. Even before looking at any property the seller’s agent must be interviewed to determine if there is a high motivation of selling the property by paying all the buyers closing costs and prepaids and perhaps hold a 2nd mortgage. If there isn’t, the buyer should not be looking at that property. If the buyer has a vacant lot, a small mortgage note, income property or anything of value like a boat or motorcycle can all be brought to bear on a deal. The barter and trading process is how America was built. Working in tandem with a professional realtor and a mortgage broker a buyer can enlist some professional help to meet the needs of their family even with challenged credit. It is not a static situation. During the first two or three years of this scenario the buyers need to put their financial house in order through family budgeting and planning with discipline to qualify for a better rate and terms on their mortgage and other credit needs for their families future. In a few years through a lot of hard work and sacrifice they can be out of their financial hole and back on an even keel.

Dale Rogers

About the Author: Dale Rogers is a thirty-year mortgage veteran and frequent contributor to the Broken Credit Blog. The BCB is a free website created to assist the general public with information about credit repair and responsible mortgage lending.

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