Ascendant

Best Approach to Repairing Credit to Buy Home? (Debt to Income Issue)

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I'm working on trying to get a home within the next year or so.  I have three collections on my credit, all fairly high ones (about $20,000 total) and none of them are falling off my credit anytime soon.  Two are from old credit cards and are charge offs, one is a collection from an apartment complex after I left (but my ex didn't, long story).  My current issue isn't so much my credit score as it is my debt to income ratio.

A lender I spoke with on the matter advised me to try working with a credit repair bureau first (which I am, and a reputable one), and then if that didn't work, to try to negotiate pay to deletes.  Considering two of them are from credit cards, based on my research online, I doubt they will do a pay to delete on those.

But anyway, I have the credit repair bureau working on it, but nothing so far (a little over two months in).  I will be trying pay to delete negotiations soon, but still need to figure out details on that (mainly, what % of the total they will typically want as an offer to take it).  Another part that is really frustrating is I only have about $3,700 saved up so far, so I'm sure I'm not even close to having enough to fix them all.  I wouldn't be in such a rush if it wasn't for the fact that the sooner I can get a home, the sooner I can get more time with my kids (another long story).  Because of that, I am trying to do this the fastest way I possibly can, while also doing it responsibly and thinking long-term.

If the credit repair and pay to delete negotiations don't work for those collections, what is my next best option to try to negotiate based on my circumstances?  Again, my biggest priority at this point is the debt to income ratio, but I do also want to raise my credit score some in the process as well (even a small increase would qualify me for first time home buyer's assistance).  Any suggestions here would be appreciated, as this is all new to me and I want to make sure to do this right and not waste my hard-earned money.

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Before you can obtain a home loan any collection accounts on your credit reports will need to be reported as paid or settled in full.

You need to determine how much of a house you can afford, as well as the down payment that's going to be required.  If you and the property qualify for an FHA loan the down payment will be around 5%.  Traditional home loans are more like 20%.  You can't take out a loan to pay for your down payment.

Instead of getting into a house the fastest way possible, have you considered moving into a suitable rental that will allow you to spend more time with your kids while you work on your credit and save up for a down payment?

Out of curiosity, how much is the credit repair bureau charging you?  Do they charge you regardless of their ability to provide positive results? 

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8 hours ago, LaneBlane said:

Before you can obtain a home loan any collection accounts on your credit reports will need to be reported as paid or settled in full.

You need to determine how much of a house you can afford, as well as the down payment that's going to be required.  If you and the property qualify for an FHA loan the down payment will be around 5%.  Traditional home loans are more like 20%.  You can't take out a loan to pay for your down payment.

Instead of getting into a house the fastest way possible, have you considered moving into a suitable rental that will allow you to spend more time with your kids while you work on your credit and save up for a down payment?

Out of curiosity, how much is the credit repair bureau charging you?  Do they charge you regardless of their ability to provide positive results? 

Well as far as the collections and needing to be reported as "paid or settled in full," I appreciate the feedback, but that doesn't help me as far as the next step I should do if the credit repair and pay to delete options don't work.  I have no idea what the optimal way to get them reported as paid or settled in full would be, unless you are actually suggesting that I just flat out pay them in full even though two of the three are illegitimate (and the other highly debatable as well)???

As far as how much of a house I can afford, I already know that.  As far as the down payment, the lender already told me to not worry about it, as like I already said, once I get those three collections resolved, he can get me financial assistance for the down payment.  It will be an FHA, and he said the financial assistance should cover it.  Told me my priority should be fixing those collections, then the home.  I was not aware that all of them have to be resolved before I could purchase a home.

As far as a suitable rental, I am on a very tight budget.  If I got a higher priced rental, then I won't be able to continue saving towards a home.  I'm not living in a slum or anything, I just don't have a spare bedroom for the kids.  But, with my current budget, I am only able to save about $500 a month.  At the current rate, I am estimating it is going to take at least 10mos just to have enough money to try to negotiate all three of those debts, and even then, that may not be nearly enough.  If I get a higher priced rental, I may as well just give up on the notion of ever owning a home.  Like I said, I am thinking long-term here.  Getting a higher priced rental would be an extremely poor decision based on my goal of owning a home.

Lastly, the credit repair is costing me about $100 a month, and they offer a 90-day money-back guarantee.  Even if I give them a chance for 6 months and at the end of the 6 months cancel, if there were no changes, I would get the last 90-days of payments back from them.  They are one of the best in the industry from all I have seen.  However, due to the fact that all these debts are high amounts (the lowest is approximately $4,600), I am thinking they are all going to fight hard to keep them.  As such, I am trying to prepare for anything.

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You won't get a deletion on legitimate debts without payment in full, and even then, most creditors/collection agencies won't delete no matter what.  The best you can realistically hope for is a settlement for less than the full amount, but they will remain on your credit report as paid collections.

If the debts are bogus, what's the hold up with the credit repair company?  They should have had them deleted within 2 weeks.

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24 minutes ago, Harry Seaward said:
 
 

You won't get a deletion on legitimate debts without payment in full, and even then, most creditors/collection agencies won't delete no matter what.  The best you can realistically hope for is a settlement for less than the full amount, but they will remain on your credit report as paid collections.

If the debts are bogus, what's the hold up with the credit repair company?  They should have had them deleted within 2 weeks.

Thanks for the information, but I am seeing much different information on other sources, including sources on these forums (in the newbies guides), which state to never pay the amount in full, as it just unnecessarily drains your bank account.

As far as the bogus collections, it is a very long story involving an ex.  Not quite that easy to prove they're fake when she had access to all of my personal information.

One of the companies had already mailed me letters on multiple occasions offering to settle the debt for about 40% of the original amount, but it is one that is completely illegitimate.  At the time that they were sending them, I also had no incentive to work on my credit, so I just dismissed them at the time.  However, if I have no chance to getting rid of the other two, it doesn't even make any sense for me to try to get rid of that one.  I'd rather focus on the two that will be harder to get rid of first, as those two are the most costly (about $15,000 in total).

And as far as paying the collections, while that would help my debt to income ratio, wouldn't that still have just about the same negative impact on my credit?  From my understanding, unless I can get them removed, they will continue to have a negative impact, even if paid.  As such, I was told it really doesn't make sense for me to pay them unless I can get them removed in the process.

This is all just really disheartening to me.  I am trying to hard to get myself to a place where I can get a home, but I am having to save up thousands of dollars towards fixing my credit that I didn't even damage to begin with (I just didn't pay attention to it while my ex did).  I feel like this is hopeless at this point.

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3 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

including sources on these forums (in the newbies guides), which state to never pay the amount in full, as it just unnecessarily drains your bank account.

Those guides were written over a decade ago.  Much has changed.  But give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

6 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

As far as the bogus collections, it is a very long story involving an ex.  Not quite that easy to prove they're fake when she had access to all of my personal information.

This sounds like ID theft or fraud.  File a police report, turn that over to the creditors/debt collectors and that will be the end of it.

6 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

And as far as paying the collections, while that would help my debt to income ratio, wouldn't that still have just about the same negative impact on my credit? 

More or less, yes.

Depending on the OC, using arbitration may be an option to give yourself some leverage to get these off your report.
https://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/329436-arbitration-overview-and-strategy-2018-most-up-to-date-info/

 

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2 minutes ago, Harry Seaward said:

Those guides were written over a decade ago.  Much has changed.  But give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

This sounds like ID theft or fraud.  File a police report, turn that over to the creditors/debt collectors and that will be the end of it.

More or less, yes.

Depending on the OC, using arbitration may be an option to give yourself some leverage to get these off your report.
https://www.creditinfocenter.com/community/topic/329436-arbitration-overview-and-strategy-2018-most-up-to-date-info/

 

Thank you so much for the clarifications. 

At this point, I am giving the credit repair company a chance for a bit.  Their reviews and feedback seem to indicate a pretty high success rate.  I am just trying to prepare for the worst too.

And yes, it was ID theft.  I already tried to pursue it legally years back.  The police wouldn't touch it.  They said "well, you two were living together, and we have no way to prove that you didn't authorize her to do those things..."  It was ridiculous.  I filed two different civil suits against her and won both, but the problem is the suits I won don't directly show the debts are illegitimate.  Like I said, it's a VERY long story, as her and I were together off and on for three years, and it was ongoing for the majority of that time without me knowing until the very end.

I will definitely look into the arbitration option you linked as well.  I appreciate the help.

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3 hours ago, Ascendant said:

Well as far as the collections and needing to be reported as "paid or settled in full," I appreciate the feedback, but that doesn't help me as far as the next step I should do if the credit repair and pay to delete options don't work.

If two of the three collections is truly illegitimate, the credit repair bureau you're working with should be able to have these removed.

I'm left with the impression that taking on home ownership at this time may not be the best thing for you.  There are several mortgage payment calculators available online that will let you estimate how much you can expect to pay each month.  Keep in mind mortgage insurance and property taxes will also be figured into your monthly payment.  Zillow should have a calculator and property tax history for listings.

My best advise for you is to not have the mindset of getting into a house as fast as possible.  This is a process that's going to take some time.

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12 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

They said "well, you two were living together, and we have no way to prove that you didn't authorize her to do those things..." 

This doesn't make any sense. It's not the cops' jobs to "prove" anything. They only file a report based on statements made by the both of you. 

 

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9 minutes ago, Harry Seaward said:

This doesn't make any sense. It's not the cops' jobs to "prove" anything. They only file a report based on statements made by the both of you. 

 

I agree, but that's what they did.  They said it would be a waste of their time, as they wouldn't be able to make a case out of it.  They said unless she flat out admitted to it, there would be no way for them to prove it, so they weren't going to file a police report on something that would go nowhere.  Again, a very long story, but I'm just telling you what the police told me.  I even talked to three different officers on three separate occasions about it.  They told me to take it to civil court, because they weren't going to pursue something they didn't feel they could make a case out of.  That is why like I said, I did take her to court and win, but the court cases didn't actually show proof of the debts being illegitimate.

Based off what I learned, if you live with someone and have a relationship with them, police don't tend to get involved if they use your identity, as they assume you may have authorized it (and are now trying to claim you didn't to spite that person).  Apparently, it's something that happens so often that unless you flat out have the person admitting fraud, police won't do anything.

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13 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

I agree, but that's what they did.  They said it would be a waste of their time, as they wouldn't be able to make a case out of it.  They said unless she flat out admitted to it, there would be no way for them to prove it, so they weren't going to file a police report on something that would go nowhere.  Again, a very long story, but I'm just telling you what the police told me.  I even talked to three different officers on three separate occasions about it.  They told me to take it to civil court, because they weren't going to pursue something they didn't feel they could make a case out of.  That is why like I said, I did take her to court and win, but the court cases didn't actually show proof of the debts being illegitimate.

What exactly is the collection from the apartment complex for?  Did you move out first and she stayed in the unit without paying rent?  Were both of you on the lease?

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29 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

Apparently, it's something that happens so often that unless you flat out have the person admitting fraud, police won't do anything.

I understand they won't press charges, but they should certainly file a report. 

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18 minutes ago, LaneBlane said:

What exactly is the collection from the apartment complex for?  Did you move out first and she stayed in the unit without paying rent?  Were both of you on the lease?

Again, a very long story, and I feel like we are getting way off topic here to get into a past that I still have PTSD over.  In short, my least ran out, so I left.  She didn't.  She wouldn't let me come back to get my stuff, and the apartment complex tried to hold me liable for her refusing to leave, even though my lease was up and I vacated (lease was solely in my name, but like I said, it was over and I left).  By the time she finally left, I lost all my possessions.  So, not only was my credit ruined, but I was left with nothing to boot.  That is one of the many reasons this situation is so disheartening to me.

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To add, I just realized today a discrepancy with one of the collections.

On my Equifax report, a charge off is showing up as $10,803. 

On my Experian report, it is showing up as $5,835.
On my TransUnion, it isn't showing up at all.

So, if I were to try to handle that one, I feel that those discrepancies at least give me some leverage for bargaining with them, although I feel they will end up trying to push for the higher amount on the Equifax one?

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5 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

Again, a very long story, and I feel like we are getting way off topic here to get into a past that I still have PTSD over.  In short, my least ran out, so I left.  She didn't.  She wouldn't let me come back to get my stuff, and the apartment complex tried to hold me liable for her refusing to leave, even though my lease was up and I vacated (lease was solely in my name, but like I said, it was over and I left).  By the time she finally left, I lost all my possessions.  So, not only was my credit ruined, but I was left with nothing to boot.  That is one of the many reasons this situation is so disheartening to me.

Let's say we take your girlfriend out of the equation for just a moment.  As long as you had furniture and possessions in the apartment, you technically didn't vacate it.  You remained responsible for the rent and any damages, regardless of the situation.  (Many times when a lease expires it automatically turns into a month-to-month if you don't vacate and hand over the keys).

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13 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

To add, I just realized today a discrepancy with one of the collections.

On my Equifax report, a charge off is showing up as $10,803. 

On my Experian report, it is showing up as $5,835.
On my TransUnion, it isn't showing up at all.

So, if I were to try to handle that one, I feel that those discrepancies at least give me some leverage for bargaining with them, although I feel they will end up trying to push for the higher amount on the Equifax one?

The only thing this discrepancy may do is raise the Experian chargeoff to $10,803.

Do you know when your next consult with the credit repair company is?  You're paying for their services, so I would speak with them about what they've learned and what they recommend going forward.  Just pay attention to their charges, read and understand their money back guarantee, and request a refund within the 90-day period if you feel you're entitled to one.

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35 minutes ago, LaneBlane said:

The only thing this discrepancy may do is raise the Experian chargeoff to $10,803.

Do you know when your next consult with the credit repair company is?  You're paying for their services, so I would speak with them about what they've learned and what they recommend going forward.  Just pay attention to their charges, read and understand their money back guarantee, and request a refund within the 90-day period if you feel you're entitled to one.

I actually just talked to them today.  They don't give you a whole lot of details as far as exactly how they're disputing it, what they've learned so far, etc.  Just a blanket statement that they adapt each dispute in response to whatever information they receive from the prior one.  I believe the problem is that the customer service reps you speak to lack the understanding to thoroughly explain what is going on. 

From everything I have researched online though, their reviews seem to be pretty good.  However, about 1 in 5 complain they weren't able to do anything, and only about 3 in 5 say they did anything significant.  But, it was the best I was able to find when looking around at reviews.

 

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To add here, had a long talk with another of their staff today (at the credit repair company).  Apparently, the last rep of theirs I spoke with was fairly new, which is why she wasn't able to give me much information.

This other rep informed me that my biggest collection is now five years old (the one that is ~$10k on one report, ~$6k on the other).  It was from a credit card, so at least now, I know where it came from.  She said with how old the collection is, it has most likely been sold off at least a few times and they should be willing to negotiate a much lower settlement.  No guarantees of course, but it's at least hopeful.

The most recent one was from three years ago, which she said also helps since it is fairly old.  That is the one where the company had already sent me those letters offering to get rid of it for substantially less than the original amount.  So with that one, they're obviously going to be willing to negotiate.

Gives me a little more hope here.

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2 hours ago, Ascendant said:

Gives me a little more hope here.

You'll be much better off if you focus on the issue with your credit reports without being in such a rush to clean things up so you can buy a house.  These things do take time. In the meanwhile, focus on things you can control like watching your spending and setting aside as much savings as possible.

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39 minutes ago, LaneBlane said:

You'll be much better off if you focus on the issue with your credit reports without being in such a rush to clean things up so you can buy a house.  These things do take time. In the meanwhile, focus on things you can control like watching your spending and setting aside as much savings as possible.

Thanks, and I am doing that.  If it weren't for the kids, I wouldn't be in such a rush.  Just hard watching so much of their lives slip by me and having no power to do anything.  Then working as hard as I am and I can't spend any of it without feeling guilty that it will just make it take that much longer to get the kids.  Just a very frustrating situation I'm in currently with so many unknowns at this time.

I feel the best I can do at this point is give the repair company at least a few months to try to work on these things.  Then if that doesn't work, start trying to negotiate something with the companies and see what I can make happen from there.  I really appreciate the feedback from everyone on here.

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18 minutes ago, Ascendant said:

Thanks, and I am doing that.  If it weren't for the kids, I wouldn't be in such a rush.  Just hard watching so much of their lives slip by me and having no power to do anything.  Then working as hard as I am and I can't spend any of it without feeling guilty that it will just make it take that much longer to get the kids.  Just a very frustrating situation I'm in currently with so many unknowns at this time.

Aside from purchasing a house with a spare bedroom, is there another option for spending time with your kids in the immediate future?  If you had them for a weekend, could you plan a weekend trip not too far away where you could stay at a hotel or rent a cabin?  Maybe there's even a website out there that can help you out with some good ideas in that particular area.

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18 hours ago, LaneBlane said:

Aside from purchasing a house with a spare bedroom, is there another option for spending time with your kids in the immediate future?  If you had them for a weekend, could you plan a weekend trip not too far away where you could stay at a hotel or rent a cabin?  Maybe there's even a website out there that can help you out with some good ideas in that particular area.

Oh, I do get to spend time with them.  It's just that if I want to have a strong case in court to get more time than I do now (which isn't much), I need leverage.  Owning a home would be the ideal leverage.  I do have an attorney already, so her and I have discussed the matter inside and out on multiple occasions.  But, the only way I will get more time than I do now is for the judge to order it, and the ideal way to make it happen is to have my own place.

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