After Foreclosure, Homeowners Face Long Wait to Buy Again

LOS ANGELES -- Next to filing for bankruptcy protection, nothing wrecks your chances of qualifying for a home loan like a foreclosure.

And if you got out from under an oppressive mortgage through a short sale -- when the bank agrees to accept less than what the homeowner owes -- lenders can look upon you just as unfavorably.

It's a reality that the former owners of the more than 4 million homes lost to foreclosure in the six years since the housing bubble burst will have to confront if they want to own again. But the passage of time makes all the difference.

That's because mortgage-lending guidelines that most banks follow prohibit them from making loans to people with foreclosure or a short sale in their credit history, often for years. Never mind the hit that one's credit score takes.

Still, some of the homeowners who were foreclosed upon when the market first started to skid are now looking to buy and getting loans.

"They're probably going to pay a little higher interest rate, but with rates so low, a higher interest rate of 4 percent is not a big deal," said Rosa Herwick, a broker and owner of Century 21 JR Realty in Henderson, Nev.

So how likely are banks to approve your mortgage application if you have a real estate-related blemish on your record? And can you do anything to spring yourself from the mortgage penalty box?

It depends on several factors, but largely on whether you had a foreclosure or a short sale.