Q: Where can people go for a mortgage if they have declared bankruptcy?
A: Generally speaking, a bankruptcy filing has in the past ruined a person's credit rating for at least seven years. But today, according to Tom Champion, residential loan officer for Crestar Mortgage Corp., there are mortgage loan programs available to people as soon as two years after filing bankruptcy.
The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) guidelines for conventional loans say that, in case of bankruptcies, the bankruptcy discharge must be at least two years old and the borrower must have re-established and maintained good credit since then. In addition, the borrower must provide a letter explaining the cause of the bankruptcy filing and why it likely would not happen again.
What the lender is looking for is some proof that the borrower has learned to deal with credit. Therefore, if you can show that you now can pay loans on time -- credit card or car loan payments, for example -- then you can probably get a home mortgage -- and probably at the same mortgage rates available to most people.
Any lender who participates in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs should be able to offer such loans.
Q: My wife and I own a building lot in Howard County. Should I consult with a local architect or should I just get a house plan out of a book and give it to a builder?
A: House plans are generic. They may or may not fit your building site or provide the design you want. An architect can tailor your needs with your budget and your site, and then act as your agent when dealing with a builder to ensure that your work is done according to the plans and the estimated cost. Most local residential architects would be happy to provide a free initial consultation.
The Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has a committee known as the Residential Design Group. Members of the group specialize in residential design and have joined to market their services. You can call AIA in Baltimore City at 625-2585 for a list of members.