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Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to signal the end of your dreams of homeownership. Despite the widespread myth that declaring bankruptcy will destroy your ability to own property, the reality of the situation is more nuanced. Our Philadelphia Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers explain how filing for Chapter 7 may affect your ability to buy a house in the future.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Buy a Home After Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

There are many factors that will influence your ability to purchase a home after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania. Some people will need to wait longer than others depending on variables like the type of loan being sought and the speed with which you are able to rebuild your credit. This article will provide general information, but it is crucial that you consult with a highly experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania if you are considering filing for bankruptcy, or have a bankruptcy in your past and are seeking a home loan. Each bankruptcy case is impacted by different financial considerations, and only by reviewing your case will a Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney be able to help you understand your options. With that in mind, let’s review how Chapter 7 bankruptcy impacts homeownership.

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The first thing you need to understand is that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for a period of 10 years. However, that does not necessarily mean you will have to wait 10 years before you can buy a home. In fact, you may be able to obtain an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan within as little as just two years of the date on which your bankruptcy case is discharged — not filed, which is an important distinction.

In many instances, Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases take approximately three to four months, so if, for example, you file for bankruptcy on January 1, your case could be discharged as early as March or April, at which point the two-year clock begins counting down. The waiting period for most other lenders is closer to four years.

3 Tips for Rebuilding Your Credit After Declaring Bankruptcy

If you have filed for or anticipate a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and intend to buy a home, one of the best things you can do is work diligently on rebuilding your credit. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can cause your credit score to drop by anywhere from 75 to 150 points, though the decrease may be larger for some filers. Depending on the circumstances, a bankruptcy may drop your credit score by more than 200 points.

Needless to say, having a poor credit score makes borrowing more difficult. The good news is, though bankruptcy will cause an initial decrease in your credit score, the decrease isn’t permanent. In fact, while bankruptcy will initially damage your credit, by releasing you from the burden of many of your debts and giving you an opportunity to get a fresh start, bankruptcy is actually a good first step toward a healthier credit score in the long term.

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It’s important to get into good credit-building habits as soon as possible after a bankruptcy in order to get on the path toward homeownership. Here are three ways to improve your credit after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  1. Make sure you pay all of your bills on time each month, and stick with it. Many lenders prefer at least 12 months of timely payments before they will consider giving you a home loan. Taking care of your financial obligations before making needless purchases will ensure that you have an adequate budget to cover your mandatory expenses.
  2. Keep track of every expense, no matter how minor — you’d be surprised at home small purchases can accumulate. Increasing your awareness of your spending habits will allow you to better, more accurately tailor your purchases to fit into your budget.
  1. Credit cards can be intimidating after a bankruptcy, but when used appropriately, they can be an excellent tool for rebuilding credit. Once you have outlined a budget for yourself, consider obtaining a secured credit card. You will be required to make a deposit, which will generally be your credit limit. For instance, if you deposit $750, the credit limit will be $750.

Contact a Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney

The Philadelphia and Bucks County Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys of Sadek & Cooper have years of experience handling thousands of cases on behalf of individuals and businesses, including Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We are committed to helping the residents of Pennsylvania manage their finances so that they can eliminate anxiety, rebuild healthy credit, and get the fresh beginnings they deserve. To talk about whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be right for you in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (215) 995-2543 today.