FHA relaxing homebuying guidelines

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PHOENIX -- It doesn't seem that long ago, does it? Foreclosures and short sales seemed to be in every neighborhood around the Valley.

"It was really 2008, 2009, and 2010," Dean Wegner said. "It was really horrible. I mean there was blood in the streets."

Almost everyone seemed to be affected by the housing crisis in some way or another.

"Oh yeah, I mean Arizona was ground zero for the recession," Wegner said. "We were the fastest in appreciation and the fastest to drop."

Wegner is a real estate and mortgage specialist based out of Scottsdale.

He agrees that the Feds clamped down hard on lenders when the housing market started to sink.

But just as quickly as it tightened the noose, the rules are now being relaxed so those who lost their home just might be homeowners again.

"Well, now they're opening the door for people who want to buy homes," Wegner said. "What they are saying is that you can buy within one year of a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy."

The Federal Housing Administration, commonly referred to as FHA, recently released new and relaxed guidelines for potential homebuyers.

And those new guidelines include allowing homeowners to re-enter the housing market after just 12 months instead of the mandatory three year wait.

"And so, it's amazing news, but there are a lot of strings attached," Wegner said.

Those strings mean you have to prove you experienced a true financial hardship that caused you to lose your home.

You can't be one of those people who were underwater and simply decided to short sale to escape.

"Well, you have to explain that you had an economical event that caused you to lose 20 percent of your income in a six month duration," Wegner said. "How do you do that? With documentation."

You have to agree to take a housing counseling class so you understand the magnitude of purchasing a home.

And your credit has to be clean since your foreclosure or bankruptcy with no late payments.

"Just because FHA says it is allowing this, does not mean banks are going to take this on," Wegner said. "It may be too risky."

Mortgage lenders are still reviewing the FHA program and taking a wait and see approach to the guidelines.  

But if they go with them, Wegner said there will be a flood of new buyers who thought they had to wait just a few more years to qualify for a home.

Wegner said to brace yourself for the moment one of those lenders gives in to the new guidelines.

"They're going to want to see tax returns, pay stubs, W-2s, a layoff letter, unemployment letters," Wegner said. "Anything that proves that you took a hit."