Pittsburgh — Losing a home to foreclosure has left such a bad taste with some former homeowners that they have lost much of their will and desire to go through the underwriting process to get approved for a new home loan — even though years may have gone by since the foreclosure episode.
“I’ve seen people spend five or six months working with a mortgage officer only to be denied a loan. They are tired. You can see it on their faces,” said Dan Sullivan, a foreclosure prevention specialist at Action Housing in downtown Pittsburgh. “They find a comfort zone in renting.
“Once the shock of the foreclosure and the move is over, they feel at ease with their current situation,” he said. “They are happy with their landlords, and renting allows more freedom and less stress for them. I had one client say to me, ‘I’ll never own a rake again.’ ”
Data released earlier this month by the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center based in Washington, D.C., suggest that the country is still digging its way out of the housing crash and that people who lost homes to foreclosure are still licking their wounds.
The center found 19 million renters now were at one point homeowners in the past 16 years. Additionally, 96 million renters have not had a mortgage in the past 16 years.
The uphill battle that many people who have been foreclosed on face in getting another mortgage can be discouraging. Sullivan said it could take two to four years for them to boost their credit score above 620, the typical credit score threshold for a mortgage. Even if the borrower has been paying utilities and credit card bills on time, that only counts on a normal credit report.
Lenders also will pull a mortgage credit report, which weighs more heavily how well they have kept up with house payments. Since many of the loan applicants who lost homes in the past were often delinquent for some time on their mortgages, that caused significant damage to the mortgage credit report.
Patricia Whitaker, CEO of Innovative Housing Opportunities in Irvine, Calif., an affordable housing developer, said former homeowners who lost their homes are not able to be at the same economic level as they were previously. Many find themselves competing for the same affordable housing that low-income families are also trying to find.
The foreclosure meant that the person or family also lost an appreciating asset as well as economic stability, said Whitaker, a member of the Urban Land Institute, which is affiliated with the Urban Institute.
“What we find is so many renters are paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent and are unable to save the sufficient down payment to even get into homeownership or get back into it,” Whitaker said. “It’s very difficult to get into the housing market with rising rents and so much of the household income going towards rent.”