If you lost your home through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, you may not have to wait five years before you are eligible to finance your next home.

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Fannie Mae is directing its lenders to relax rules making mortgage applicants who have done short sales or given up their homes with deeds in lieu of foreclosure ineligible for a new mortgage for many years. Instead, you could be eligible for Fannie Mae financing in as few as two years. The new standards go into effect July 1st.

Homeowners who have done short sales -- for example under the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program (HAFA) -- may be able to qualify for a mortgage in just a couple of years. The purpose of this is to push troubled homeowners to work with lenders and avoid costly foreclosures. While the hit to your credit score is the same whether you do a short sale, deed-in-lieu, or get foreclosed on, the new rule means you gain an advantage if you avoid foreclosure.

There are catches, however. To qualify for a new loan in two years, you'll probably have to put at down least 20% down. With 10%, you have to wait four years, and with less than that it may take even longer.

But, wait, there's more. If you can prove that your mortgage credit problems stemmed from extenuating circumstances, like job loss, medical expenses, or divorce, you might get a loan approval in two years and put only 10%.

Freddie Mac, Fannie's counterpart, works a bit differently. If you can't cannot that extenuating circumstances caused your financial problems, Freddie Mac won't approve a new mortgage in under four years. If you lost your home because you bought too many toys or took too many vacations, Freddie makes you wait five years.