ORLANDO, Fla. – Less than five years after Jose and Mary Guadalupe lost their longtime family home to foreclosure, the Orange County couple were able to buy back their house.
“I didn’t want any other house,” said Jose Guadalupe, a 55-year-old truck driver formerly in Puerto Rico law enforcement. He had added a back porch, new lighting, a loft and a sprinkler system to the home they purchased in 2000. “I only wanted my house back. You don’t know how much I love this house. My children grew up here.”
The Guadalupes are among an emerging group of purchasers, called “boomerang buyers,” who are able to get back into the housing market under new, more forgiving lending guidelines.
Although the Guadalupes are unusual in buying the very home that they lost, some foreclosed owners are finding they can qualify for conventional mortgages within three years instead of the previous seven. Buyers who qualify for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration may have to wait only one or two years.
“Foreclosures were pretty much seven years on a conventional loan, and now you can go down to three years,” said Rob Nunziata, president of Orlando-based FBC Mortgage. “Short sales used to be seven years, and now they are as short as two years with a 20 percent down payment and meeting the criteria.”
Last fall, the FHA revised its guidelines under its Back to Work program. Borrowers must show they fell behind on mortgage payments because of an “economic event,” such as a layoff, that stripped them of at least 20 percent of their household income.
In addition, they have to show they’ve re-established their credit for at least 12 months. And they have to complete HUD-approved counseling.
Though 26 percent of white borrowers were unaware of details of adjustable-rate mortgages, 59 percent of minority borrowers did not know or understand their loan terms, according to a 2006 Federal Reserve report.