Vail Daily column: How do we get back into home ownership? | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: How do we get back into home ownership?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

We lost our home in 2008 during the financial crisis. We had just purchased it in 2006 and then my husband was laid off work in late 2008. We could not keep up with the payments so we called a Realtor who was a wonderful help getting us out with a short sale. We were one of the fortunate ones that did not have a deficiency judgment to pay afterwards, so it could have been much worse. However, we have been renters ever since. We both have good jobs now and have been saving all we can and would love to buy a home. What will we need to do to qualify? We are a little embarrassed to start looking and don't know what questions to ask. Thank you for any advice.

Dear Embarrassed,

I am thrilled you are getting back into real estate. Please realize that you were one of many. In fact, last Sunday's article from Jill Schlesinger in the Business Section of The Denver Post stated that: "According to the real estate information company RealtyTrac, from 2007 to 2014 some 7.3 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure or to short sales." My hope is that most of those people will come back, realizing that real estate has historically been one of the best investments the average person can make. And it has made veritable fortunes for the clever or lucky ones that have been in the right place at the right time.

All you really need are two things. Actually, I am prejudiced, so I will say all you really need is one thing β€” another knowledgeable Realtor, like the one that helped you get out as gracefully as possible with your short sale. Tell your Realtor the whole story. This Realtor will give you two or three names of mortgage lenders that can pre-qualify you and let you know exactly where you stand in the credit world. The lender will tell you what, if any, steps need to be taken to get you qualified for your next home. I believe your timing is excellent because the lenders I know say you can qualify most easily if you wait seven years. You are probably there, or at least close enough to start the process, depending on the final date of your sale and release of liability. Fortunately, the interest rates are excellent now and there is a little more inventory to choose from at this time of year. My only advice would be to establish your own parameters once your lender has told you what you can afford. Even though the economy is growing, you might err on the side of caution this time and buy a "stepping stone" β€” a home that is very nice and takes care of all of your needs but still allows you room to cover your payments when the inevitable economic shifts come in the future. Later, you can sell this home and "step up" to the next one. Best of luck to you!

Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned at Joan@TeamBlackBear.com, 970-337-7777 or http://www.SkiAndTeeHomes.com.