Self-Employed and Looking for a Home Loan? Here’s What You Need to Know

12th Jul, 2023 | Articles, Interest Rates, Self employed

In this article:
Being your own boss doesn't mean you have to settle for a higher interest rate or face insurmountable challenges.

Are you self-employed and in the market for a home loan? Don’t fret! Being your own boss doesn’t mean you have to settle for a higher interest rate or face insurmountable challenges. In this article, we’ll discuss the difficulties self-employed borrowers often encounter when applying for a mortgage and provide valuable tips to navigate the process successfully.

Challenges Faced by Self-Employed Borrowers:

1. Proof of Income: Unlike salaried employees who can rely on years of payslips to demonstrate their financial stability, self-employed professionals or business owners often lack consistent wages or payslips. As a result, lenders require additional evidence to assess their ability to afford the loan.

2. Income Calculations: Lenders often use different methods to calculate income for self-employed borrowers. While most require two years of income tax returns, they also examine business activity and recent income fluctuations. This discrepancy can be frustrating, as it necessitates providing more paperwork and documentation.

3. Industry Consideration: The industry in which you work can influence your loan application’s success. Individuals employed in high-risk sectors, such as international travel and tourism, may find it more challenging to secure a loan.

4. Two-Year Income Window: Lenders typically evaluate income over the past two years. If you have been self-employed for less than two years or recently switched industries, obtaining a loan can be more difficult.

Mark Bouris Unpacks some of the challenges of getting a home loan as a self-employed borrower.

Tips for Self-Employed Borrowers:

1. Explore Regular Loans: Avoid gravitating towards alternate document loans without thorough research. These loans require fewer documents but often come with higher interest rates. Seek professional advice to determine if a regular loan could be a viable option for you.

2. Prepare Documentation: Streamline the loan application process by having the necessary documentation ready in advance. Ensure you have your past two years’ income tax returns readily available. Understand your business’s revenue, credit, and expenses, and organize these details for easy sharing with your lender or broker.

3. Manage Debt: As a self-employed professional, your living expenses are subject to closer scrutiny compared to salaried borrowers. Keep your debt under control by monitoring your expenses and curbing online and credit card spending.

4. Consult a Mortgage Broker: With the mortgage landscape evolving rapidly, it’s crucial to seek guidance from a mortgage broker. A knowledgeable broker can assist you in finding the right loan type and lender that align with your specific circumstances. They can also access a broad panel of lenders, particularly lenders that you may not know of.

When you approach a lender directly, they can only offer you a product that they sell, whereas a mortgage broker can sift through all of the lenders available to them to find the best deal for your circumstances. 

This is particularly important as a self employed individual, as there are expert or specialist lenders who can provide tailored finance options. 

How do I know which loan is right for me?

When it comes to choosing the best loans for self-employed individuals, it’s essential to consider various factors, such as your income stability, business structure, and credit history. Some loan options that may work well for self-employed borrowers include:

1. Full Documentation Loans: These loans require comprehensive documentation, including income tax returns, financial statements, and business bank statements. They are ideal for individuals with stable income and a solid credit history.

2. Low Documentation Loans: Also known as “low-doc” loans, these options require less documentation but usually come with higher interest rates. They can be suitable for self-employed borrowers with limited documentation or irregular income.

3. Asset-Based Loans: These loans focus on the value of assets, such as real estate or investment portfolios, rather than solely relying on income. If you have significant assets but limited income documentation, this option might be worth considering.

Securing a home loan as a self-employed individual may present its share of challenges, but it’s far from impossible. By understanding the specific hurdles you may encounter and following the tips provided in this article, you can navigate the process with confidence. Remember to seek professional advice from a mortgage broker who can guide you towards the most suitable loan and lender.

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