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Can a criminal record prevent you from getting a mortgage?

Many people who are convicted of crimes, and even those who serve time behind bars, get their lives back on track. They finish their education, get good jobs and perhaps marry and have children.

Say that you've put your past behind you, made a new life for yourself and now you're ready to buy a house. That means applying for a mortgage loan. Can a potential lender see your criminal record? Can you be denied a mortgage based on that record?

The answer to both of those questions is "yes." If a bank or other lender runs a background check on a potential borrower, his or her criminal history will come up. Companies have varying policies on lending to people with criminal records. It's not against the law to deny people loans for that reason, as it is to deny them a loan based on their gender, religion, race or other protected status.

Not all lenders run background checks. Therefore, it may be best not to ask if they do. It could just raise suspicion.

However, you'll need to provide information about your employment and residency history. If you were incarcerated for some time, this will come up in your answers. Potential lenders will also look at your credit record.

Some lenders don't let a past criminal history influence their decision if someone has stayed out of trouble, has a steady job and is a good credit risk. Before shopping for a mortgage, you may want to check with a Maryland criminal defense attorney to see if expungement of your record is an option.

Criminal convictions can impact many aspects of your life for years, and potentially forever. That's why it's crucial to work to prevent a conviction or mitigate the consequences of a criminal charge if you or your loved one is in that situation.

Source: FindLaw, "A Criminal Record and a Mortgage Loan," accessed May 10, 2018

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