Nov
07

How to Buy a House

By
Steven Gillman asked:

There has been a lot written about the mechanics of how to buy a house. You get pre-qualified for a loan, then perhaps pre-approved, and then you look for a home, make an offer, have inspections done and so on. Many people can help you through the process. But what if you can’t get pre-approved? What if you have little income, bad credit or other serious problems that prevent you from buying a home?

Mortgage loan requirements are being toughened up again now. Once again you might even need a down payment to get a loan. A bad credit rating no longer just means paying a higher interest rate – it can actually exclude you from obtaining a mortgage loan. But there still is hope. Let’s look at how to buy a house when it doesn’t seem quite possible.

How To Buy A House With Bad Credit

To begin with, if it is a slight credit problem, you may still be able to get a traditional loan. There are several ways to do this. The first is to correct any errors on your credit report, and challenge any entries you disagree with. You have a legal right to do this. Once changes are reflected in your credit score, you may be able to apply again and get a mortgage loan.

The other way is to go to local lenders which hold their own loans. Ask around to see which ones do this. Most lenders sell the loans they make, and so these loans have to meet the requirements of the secondary market. If they keep some loans “in house” they are not necessarily bound by rules or requirements other than those they have for themselves.

You can also buy a house with another person. Many people think that this is only for married couples, but any two people can buy a home together, and the lender will look at both credit histories to determine eligibility. It can be risky to buy a house with a friend, but sometimes it works out better for both compared to renting. If you had a down payment, for example, and he had good credit, you might help each other out, and sell the home five years later to recover your down payment and the respective shares of the equity you build.

You also can look to seller financing as a way to buy when you can’t get a loan. I have seen homes sold without credit checks and with nothing down by sellers who financed the deals. The usual motivation for them to do this is to get a higher price and /or to sell a problem property, but it still can sometimes be a good opportunity for a buyer. Even if sellers don’t offer terms, if you know they own their houses free and clear you can make offers that involve making payments to them rather than getting a loan to cash them out. Make it decent offer if you want it accepted, of course.

How To Buy A House When You Have No Money

If cash is your problem, you can start by making high offers on those houses that might be sold with zero-down seller financing, as suggested above. Teaming up and buying a home with a friend who has a down payment is another possibility. There are even a few mortgage lenders out there who are still offering zero-down loans. Check around.

One way that no one seems to like much is to save the money for a down payment. This means putting off owning a home for a while, but that may be a good thing at times. For example, in some areas in 2005 it cost $600 more per month to buy a house than to rent an apartment of similar area. Suppose you could have afforded the house, but had no down payment. You could have banked the $600 you were saving by renting each month, and three years later you would have about $23,000 for a down payment. Meanwhile home prices fell.

What if your problem isn’t just a lack of cash, but also low income? Then maybe this isn’t the right time for you to buy a house. This is especially true where the cost of buying is significantly higher than the cost of renting. On the other hand, if it will cost you about the same each month to buy as to rent, try everything above to get into a home. You’ll be better off in the long run.

You might want to consider cheaper options than the usual starter homes. My first home was a mobile home on a small lot, for example. It cost less than $20,000 and I sold it for $45,000 years later. The monthly payment? $257. That certainly beat renting, and you can see that the idea some have about mobile homes not appreciating is just plain wrong (the land is where the value is, of course).

There are other ways to buy a house when your income is low and you have no money saved. If you expect your income to rise, you might look for a lease-option deal. You rent a house with an option to buy it at a set price within a set time (often a year or two). This buys you time to save money, improve your credit, and increase your income, so you can get a loan.

Buying a small lot for now is another way. Sellers of small lots may not worry about credit ratings, and they often don’t need large down payments. They know you can’t damage a piece of land as easily as a house, so they feel secure selling it with little or nothing down and they enjoy the interest they make. Your goal here is to get your finances and credit in order as you make those payments, so you can get a mortgage loan in a couple years, and put a house on the lot.

Look at all the possibilities. There is usually a way to buy a house if you keep trying.

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