Skip to Main Content

Can You Refinance Your Mortgage After Bankruptcy?

It’s possible to qualify for a mortgage refinance after bankruptcy and improve your financial situation. However, the lending standards are different for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

By Josh Patoka

Written by

Josh Patoka


Josh Patoka is a personal finance authority and a contributor to Credible. His work has been published on Fox Business and several award-winning personal finance blogs including Well Kept Wallet, Wallet Hacks, and Frugal Rules.

Edited by Reina Marszalek

Written by

Reina Marszalek

Senior editor

Reina is a senior mortgage editor at Credible and Fox Money.

Updated March 25, 2024

Editorial disclosure: Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances.

Read More


Personal bankruptcy can help you recover from financial challenges but the process can impact your creditworthiness for several years.

For example, you may wish to refinance your mortgage to improve your repayment options. While it’s not impossible to refinance after bankruptcy, it can be harder to qualify.

Can you refinance after bankruptcy?

Yes, you can refinance your mortgage after bankruptcy, but having a bankruptcy on your credit report will make it more difficult to qualify.

It also depends on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the type of mortgage loan you’re looking to refinance. You may have to wait several years before you can start the mortgage refinancing process.

If you’re ready to refinance, Credible makes the process easy. You can see personalized prequalified rates from our partner lenders in just a few minutes. We also provide transparency into lender fees that other comparison sites typically don’t.

Find out if refinancing is right for you

Find My Refi Rate

In 3 minutes, get actual prequalified rates without impacting your credit score.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy vs. Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the two most common types of personal bankruptcy. Both filing options can reduce your total debt balance.

Here are some of the primary differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and how they can affect your mortgage refinance:

Chapter 7
Chapter 13
You’ll sell (liquidate) your assets to pay off debt
You’ll enter a repayment plan to pay off debt
You can receive a discharge within six months of filing
You must repay debt within 3 to 5 years before remaining balance is discharged
May result in home foreclosure
Stops foreclosure proceedings
Remains on your credit report for 10 years after you file
Remains on your credit report for seven years after you file
Minimum waiting period to apply for refinancing after the discharge date:
FHA loan:2 years
VA loan: 2 years
USDA loan: 3 years
Conventional loan: 4 years
Jumbo loan: 7 years
Minimum waiting period to apply for refinancing after the discharge date:
FHA loan: 1 day
VA loan: 1 day
Conventional loan: 2 years
Jumbo loan: 7 years

The bankruptcy code is complex and can affect your credit history and ability to refinance in other ways, so be sure to speak with a bankruptcy attorney for personal guidance.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, involves selling assets upfront to pay back outstanding debts. It’ll remain on your personal credit history for 10 years from the filing date.

As part of Chapter 7, a bankruptcy trustee — the person appointed by the court to oversee your bankruptcy — may sell some of your nonexempt assets to satisfy the payment requirements of the creditors. Nonexempt assets typically include:

  • A second home
  • A newer model car or second car
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • Jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Expensive clothing
  • Valuable collections, such as a stamp collection or sports memorabilia

If the value of your nonexempt assets isn’t enough to cover your debts, the trustee may foreclose on your home. This is primarily what makes Chapter 7 riskier than Chapter 13.

tip Icon

How long does a Chapter 7 bankruptcy take?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take between four to six months to complete. Once you reach your discharge date, you’re no longer liable to pay back certain types of debt.

Waiting period for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

If you get to keep your home, you won’t be able to qualify for a refinance right away. You’ll need to wait a few years after the court discharges your bankruptcy before you can apply for another home loan.

The waiting period to refinance after a Chapter 7 discharge varies by the type of mortgage you have:

  • FHA loan: 2 years
  • VA loan: 2 years
  • USDA loan: 3 years
  • Conventional loan: 4 years
  • Jumbo loan: 7 years

These multi-year waiting periods allow the lender to see if you can manage your remaining debts after the liquidation. It can be more difficult to refinance after filing for Chapter 7 than Chapter 13 since the waiting periods are longer and the event remains on your credit report for three extra years.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy

When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll agree to a repayment plan to discharge your debts and any remaining balance discharges after completing the repayment plan. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years.

One of the main benefits of filing Chapter 13 is that it stops foreclosure proceedings. As long as you can make the mortgage payments during the repayment period, you’ll be able to keep your house.

tip Icon

How long does a Chapter 13 bankruptcy take?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take between three to five years to complete, depending on your income and the terms of your repayment plan.

Waiting period for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy waiting periods are generally shorter. For instance, after a Chapter 13 discharge, as long as you’ve made 12 qualifying on-time payments, you’ll only need to wait a day to refinance a government-backed loan.

The waiting periods to refinance after a Chapter 13 discharge are:

  • FHA, VA, and USDA loans: 1 day with 12 qualifying on-time payments
  • Conventional loans: 2 years
  • Jumbo loans: 7 years

With conventional loans, if you don’t complete the terms of your repayment plan, the court can dismiss your bankruptcy, and you’ll have to wait four years after that date to refinance your mortgage.

tip Icon


If you are still waiting to file for bankruptcy, debt consolidation with personal loans might be worth pursuing instead. This can make it easier to refinance your mortgage as a bankruptcy filing won’t appear on your credit report.

Benefits of refinancing your home loan after bankruptcy

There are several benefits to refinancing after bankruptcy:

  • Lower monthly payment: Refinancing can reduce your minimum monthly cost to a more budget-friendly amount.
  • Lower mortgage rate: By taking advantage of low refinance rates, you can reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
  • Switch to a fixed interest rate: If you currently have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), refinancing to a fixed interest rate can provide more stability to your monthly payments.
  • Extra cash for debt payments: You may consider a cash-out refinance and utilize the equity in your home to repay high-interest debts.

How to refinance your mortgage after bankruptcy

Follow these steps to refinance your mortgage after bankruptcy and increase your approval odds.

1. Focus on rebuilding your credit

It’s harder to qualify for refinancing with a bankruptcy on your credit report. In addition, the filing will continue to negatively impact your credit score until the item is deleted from your report.

However, there are several ways you can improve your credit score:

  • Make on-time payments for loans and credit cards
  • Don’t apply for new credit accounts
  • Maintain a credit utilization ratio below 30% on revolving accounts
  • Dispute credit report errors

Rebuilding your credit also shows mortgage lenders that you can responsibly manage credit and make payments on time for your current home loan and any other debts. It’ll also help you qualify for better rates and terms.

Find Out: How to Refinance Your Mortgage With Bad Credit

2. Make sure your waiting period is over

You’ll also need to satisfy the minimum post-bankruptcy waiting period after your discharge date. As discussed above, the waiting period varies by loan type and bankruptcy chapter.

You’ll also want to verify you meet the lender’s credit and financial guidelines before you apply. For example, you must meet the minimum credit score and remain below the maximum debt-to-income ratio (DTI) specified by the lender.

3. Gather and organize your documentation

Refinancing is similar to applying for a first mortgage. You’ll need to supply the standard documents plus certain bankruptcy forms.

Here are some of the documents to have on hand before you apply:

  • Bankruptcy discharge papers
  • Credit explanation letters for derogatory items
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Federal tax returns for the past two years

Your loan officer will likely request additional forms to verify your income and credit.

4. Compare lenders and loan types

It’s important to compare your refinance options from several lenders to find the best rates and terms. You can also score a better rate by giving your credit score a boost, supplying a larger down payment, and opting for a shorter loan term.

5. Apply for a refinance

The final step is applying for a mortgage refinance. This step requires a hard credit check but the new repayment terms can be worth the temporary credit score drop.

You can expect the process to take 30 to 45 days when you have the necessary paperwork.

Alternatives to refinancing after bankruptcy

Refinancing your mortgage after bankruptcy may not be the best financial decision for your circumstances. For example, the refinancing costs may be too high or you might still be within the minimum waiting period. If so, consider these mortgage refinance alternatives:

  • Make extra payments: Consider making extra payments to your high-interest debt and home loan. You can pay off the loan sooner and minimize your interest charges. Instead of paying closing costs, use those funds as an additional payment instead.
  • Mortgage recasting: Many conventional loans qualify for a mortgage recast. This requires an upfront lump-sum payment to reduce your remaining principal balance and lower your monthly bill. Your payment term and interest rate remain the same and no credit check is necessary.
  • Mortgage modification: Your lender may also be receptive to modifying your mortgage loan. It’s possible to extend the repayment period or temporarily reduce the interest rate without refinancing. However, your total loan costs can be higher if you have more monthly payments.
Meet the expert:
Josh Patoka

Josh Patoka is a personal finance authority and a contributor to Credible. His work has been published on Fox Business and several award-winning personal finance blogs including Well Kept Wallet, Wallet Hacks, and Frugal Rules.