NJ First-Time Home Buyers

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Can I Qualify for a Mortgage with a Large Collection/Derogatory Debt on My Credit?

Can I Qualify for a Mortgage with a Large Collection/Derogatory Debt on My Credit?

Can a home buyer qualify for a mortgage with a large collection-type account on their credit, such as a car repossession or a judgment? And if so, does the buyer have to pay it off before settlement?

Bumble-Boy Loan OfficerThe answer is YES a buyer may qualify for a mortgage with a large derogatory/collection account on their credit report. If the buyer has to pay it off before or at settlement (or not at all) mainly depends on the underwriter/lender.

When it comes to a collection-type account, lenders will vary as to what exactly has to be done to qualify for a mortgage. Some loan officers will tell a buyer to pay off all collection accounts or anything at all derogatory on their credit. This can at times be some of the worst advice for a home buyer. Here is why ... 

  • Paying off a collection account can drop your credit score, and we are talking A LOT of points.
  • Not all collections/judgments (etc.) are required to be paid off.

Buyers: Get approved FIRST - Then see what the requirements are to go to settlement. Even if a lender requires an account to be paid off, it can almost always be paid at settlement. This is better for the buyer as they can save the money required and it won't drop their credit score before settlement.

There is another potential option: Sometimes a buyer is allowed to bypass paying off the entire collection if they can clearly document satisfactory payments on the account for 12+ months. In this case the monthly payment is calculated into the buyer's monthly installment debts.

TIP: If a loan officer quick looks at your credit report and tells you to pay every collection and/or derogatory account off, and then come back to him/her to get qualified, then you should probably find another loan officer to work with, one who has a much better grasp on the realities of the credit scoring model.

Steve Kappre is a mortgage loan officer in New Jersey. For more info or questions feel free to contact Steve.

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Comment balloon 7 commentsRichard & Carol DeGrace • August 23 2010 10:38PM
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