Entrepreneurship should be rewarded, but when it comes to mortgages, it hasn't always paid to be self-employed. Although over 20% of Americans are self-employed, qualifying for a self-employed mortgage is more difficult because reducing your taxable income can make it difficult to qualify for the mortgage you deserve. If you are wondering how to improve your chances of qualifying for the mortgage, providing complete and current financial documents from the past two years is essential.
Self Employed? 5 Steps to Scoring a Mortgage
While getting a loan as a W-2 employee may be cheaper and easier than if you're self-employed, you don't have to go running back to your cubicle to qualify for a mortgage. Some lenders may be concerned that you won't earn a steady enough income to make your monthly payments, and others may simply not want to deal with the additional paperwork that can be involved in providing a mortgage to a self-employed person. But don't worry; if you're self-employed, there are mortgage products available as well as steps you can take to make yourself a more attractive loan candidate.
What to Expect
As someone who is self-employed, lenders may not see you as the ideal borrower. Expect to pay higher interest rates than the ones commonly advertised on mortgage websites; those rates are for prime borrowers, or borrowers who are considered to be particularly creditworthy because of their steady, verifiable incomes and excellent credit scores. Similarly, because you may be a less attractive candidate, you might have a reduced ability to shop around and negotiate a lower interest rate. You may also have to put more work into finding lenders who are willing to work with you in the first place.
Another problem you may encounter is that if you've used lots of business expenses to reduce your taxable income on your tax returns, lenders may wonder if you make enough money to afford a home. Finally, banks may want to see a lower loan-to-value ratio (LTV ratio), meaning that you'll need to come up with a larger down payment.
Due to the subprime mortgage crisis, it may become more difficult for the self-employed to obtain mortgages as banks shy away from riskier investments to protect their financial interests and their reputations.
However, some lenders may still be willing to give you one of the following types of loans.
While many self-employed individuals and couples may choose one of the above options due to the difficulty of sufficiently documenting their incomes, those who can prove their incomes and who are willing to submit the extra paperwork can still apply for full-documentation loans, which will have lower interest rates than their low- and no-doc cousins. While a traditional employee might simply need to provide copies of W-2s for the last two years, because self-employed individuals do not receive this document, they may need to provide information about their businesses, such as previous years' tax returns, a current business license, a signed statement from an accountant, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets.
Getting a joint mortgage with a co-borrower who is a W-2 employee, such as a significant other, spouse, or trusted friend, is another way to improve your prospects of getting approved for a mortgage if you are self-employed. This provides more assurance to your lender that there is a steady income to pay back the debt.
Finally, a parent or other relative might be willing to cosign your mortgage loan. Keep in mind that this person will need to be willing and able to assume full responsibility for the loan if you default.
Can You Really Afford It?
It can be easy to get into trouble with low- and no-documentation loans because it's easy to fudge the numbers. Realize that you, not the bank, know best about whether you can really afford the loan, and that you will be the one who truly suffers if you lose your home. Learn from the experiences of all the subprime borrowers who have gone into foreclosure and don't get in over your head.
Make Yourself an Attractive Candidate
If you know you can make the payments, you can do some of the following things to improve your chances of getting a loan.
The Bottom Line
If a W-2 employee loses his or her job, the person's income will drop to zero in the blink of an eye in the absence of unemployment insurance benefits; those who are self-employed often have multiple clients and are unlikely to lose all of them at once, giving them more job security than is commonly perceived. Of course, if you're self-employed, you're already used to having to work extra hard to file additional tax forms, secure business licenses, get new clients and keep your business running. Don't let anyone tell you that you'll never get a mortgage if you're self-employed, or that you shouldn't quit your day job to pursue your dream of running your own business until you've already purchased a home. Armed with a little knowledge and patience, you'll be able to have your own home and work in it, too.
I Want a Better Mortgage has the knowledge and experience to find you the best mortgage product and help you prepare and improve your changes of a mortgage. We have access to many lenders and can offer a wide range of innovative mortgage options for self-employed Americans. Our range of mortgages for Self Employed offers competitively-priced financing for business owners and those who are self-employed. Contact one of our experts today and get the mortgage you deserve.