Homeownership in reach for more as Fannie Mae to include rent payments in mortgage approval process

With a high-paying job as an environmental engineer for a shipbuilding company, Nicole Lawrence figured snagging a mortgage and fulfilling her dream of buying a home would be a piece of cake.

But when she applied for a mortgage early this year, she didn’t qualify. Her ex-husband had fallen behind on debts he owed but the couple legally shared, such as car payments and medical bills. That lowered her credit score.

“Devastated,” Lawrence, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with her two kids, said of how she took the news. “I have a great job, I make a great salary. … I was very disappointed.”