Buying a House After a Consumer Proposal in Canada

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

A common practice for debt management in Canada is a consumer proposal. This is similar to filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the United Sates in that it creates a legal protection for the consumer and also sets of a steady repayment plan of the debt itself. In most cases the debt balance is negotiated to be much less than the original debt. Even though it shares many similarities with bankruptcy it is actually a better alternative where available. Consumer proposals leave far less negative impact on one’s credit rating enabling them to rebuild the credit and borrowing capabilities much sooner.

A typical credit proposal’s payment plan is between three to five years. After this time, the record of the proposal remains on an individual’s credit report for three additional years before it ages itself off. Until this has occurred, buying a home can be difficult. With this in mind, it is not likely that a consumer will be successful in getting a mortgage for six to eight years following the start of the consumer proposal. This could be extended given the reality that receiving a mortgage loan will likely require a large down payment. This could easily be as high as 20% of the overall home’s value.

Some would suggest seeking to reestablish responsible credit as soon as possible, following the discharge of the consumer proposal, by seeking a few credit cards and using them wisely. Others would caution, however, that this could produce behavior that is dangerously close to the choices that resulted in the need for debt relief initially. Different sources would recommend not being concerned with the purposeful rebuilding of credit, but to focus on wise financial decisions and building savings towards an adequate down-payment.

Perhaps a more responsible solution is one that begins prior to the creation of the consumer proposal. Even though it is a better alternative to bankruptcy there could be other options that are superior. For example, the use of a debt settlement plan. In this scenario, a professional settlement agency works on behalf of the consumer, to negotiate a lower overall debt responsibility and counsels the consumer in how to best eliminate the negotiated balances. This option also leaves some negative information on a credit report, but it is not as official as the designation placed by a consumer proposal. In fact, it is possible that the negotiators can work towards the elimination of negative marks into the payoff agreements. All of which offers a faster recovery period thus opening more availability to obtain a mortgage in the future.

Regardless of options used, it will likely be necessary and certainly necessary to save up the resources needed to cover the initial down payment. However, choosing the proper debt elimination path could possibly mean the difference between 2- 6 years of mortgage availability.

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