Back when the Great Recession began, Cary Schneider lost a wife and a job. Because of that, he lost his house, too.
He’s since replaced all three. His is a tale of loss and recovery, both in love and finance.
This being a personal finance column, we’ll stick to the money part. Schneider is proof that people can pick themselves up and become homeowners again after foreclosures and short sales.
More of that is happening these days. The giant mortgage players — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration — require people who defaulted on mortgages to spend years in credit purgatory before they can get another house.
Six years after the bursting of the housing bubble began, those sentences have expired for millions. In the meantime, they’ve found jobs and built some savings.
Now, some are ready to buy.
“I’ve done more FHA loans for people with foreclosures in the past six months than in the past 17 years,” says Jeff Griege of Paramount Mortgage, who handled Schneider’s loan.
And so Schneider is now the happy owner of a newly built home in Imperial, which he shares with his new wife and her children.
“All my friends and family are amazed,” he says.
Back during the real estate boom of the last decade, Schneider and his former wife bought a new house in Jefferson County. They bought before they had managed to sell their previous house.
So, they signed up for an adjustable rate mortgage. The rate started low, but would jump much higher after two years. “I was leveraged and gambling,” he said.
But he thought the odds were with him. The plan was to refinance into a long-term mortgage once the old house sold. Then things started to fall apart.
His marriage broke up, and Schneider no longer had two incomes to support the mortgage. He lost his job.
The old home did sell, but Schneider no longer had the income needed to refinance. After two years, the rate on the mortgage reset and the payment jumped from $1,500 to $2,200 per month. He fell behind.
“I couldn’t do it. I called the finance company and begged. They said there was nothing they could do,” he said. By 2008, he was facing foreclosure.
“I was sitting on the couch, drowning my sorrows. I’d just received my first foreclosure notice,” he said.
Then a real estate agent knocked on the door, suggesting that he try a short sale. That’s a deal in which a buyer pays less for the house than the seller owes on the mortgage. The bank agrees to eat the difference, calculating that it would lose more money by foreclosing and trying to sell the house.
Banks have become much more amenable to short sales in the last two years. But in 2008, they were hard to get. Schneider owed $300,000. The bankers accepted a second offer for $260,000.
“I felt bad. It’s unfair to make a mistake and walk away,” he says. But he thinks the bank is also to blame for making him a risky loan. “There’s no way I should have been in that house. I couldn’t afford it,” he said.
Schneider started working again. He did a smart thing; he kept up payments on his other debts even as he was losing his house.
Foreclosures and short sales are hell on credit scores, and a decent score is important in getting a mortgage. A foreclosure can knock 85 to 160 points off your credit score, and people with high scores suffer most, according to illustrations supplied by the FICO scoring company.
But if you pay other debts on time, your score starts to improve in as little as two years, FICO says.
“If you have late payments after a foreclosure or short sale, that’s really going to make it difficult to get a new mortgage,” says mortgage lender George DeMare, managing partner of Midwest Mortgage Capital in west St. Louis County.
Buying a home after short sales and foreclosures | South Salem Real Estate | Bedford NY Real Estate | Robert Paul Talks Life in Bedford NY.