Portlanders: Your Less than Perfect Credit Can't Keep You from Your Dreamhome

ZipRealty’s national blog has been featuring helpful articles for Americans who want to own a house, but whose credit isn’t perfect. The main point—or inspiration—to take away: past financial hardship, including bankruptcy doesn’t mean you can never be a homeowner.

Portland supports the dream of homeownership. Portland also supports financial fresh starts.  And the two aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact, thanks to local programs such as those you can find at the Portland Housing Center, they can work in tandem.

Today’s Oregonian features an article about a family, the Macsisaks, with a poor credit score but a grand dream of homeownership. They have good incomes, but past major adversity (the sort many of us have suffered due to the recession) had driven their debts up and their FICO numbers down. With the help of the Portland Housing Center, the Macsisaks set up a plan to curb their expenses in order to settle their debts, and then to begin saving-- $1000 a month!-- for their future home.

The Portland Housing Center “works with clients of all income levels. There’s a $65 one-time fee that allows clients to attend the Home Buying 101 and Financial Fitness classes and work with a counselor. Everything is confidential.” They help with all credit issues including bankruptcies, foreclosures, and short sales.


Portlanders with past financial hardships need to understand the process can be a hard one, and a long one, but in the end, a rewarding one. Brian Reynolds of Alpine Mortgage Planning told the Oregonian the following specifics regarding waiting periods for these prospective buyers:

  • 3 years from settlement of a foreclosure or short sale before being eligible for FHA financing
  • 1 year after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy before being eligible for FHA financing
  • If the applicant has a record of late payments on a mortgage, most investors require 2 years from the date of the last late pay.

But in that time, these would-be buyers can clean up their credit and save for their downpayment and closing costs. Imelda Ortiz, a home buying specialist at the Center, has the following encouraging words:

“You can own a house, you really can,” she said. “It’s important for people to know that. We will set up a realistic plan for you. If it’s not realistic today, we will set up a plan to buy a home in a year or two, but we will still help.” 

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Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert

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