Looking to get on the property ladder? You might think twice about it given the commonly held misconception that it is almost next to impossible to get a mortgage when you are self-employed. Well, according to experts this is all hogwash and you shouldn’t believe any word of it. As a matter of fact you have as much chance of getting your application approved from mortgage lenders as that if you were employed. It is just that you have to show a little bit of judgment and prudence in your approach to managing your finances.
In the following paragraphs we shall discuss in some detail, the steps you need to take and the mistakes you need to avoid as a contractor, freelancer or micro-business owner to give yourself a realistic chance of getting your mortgage application approved from mortgage lenders.
There’s no such thing as a self-employed mortgage!
Well, to tell you the truth this is all bollocks. In the United Kingdom, you are eligible for a variety of mortgage products irrespective of whether you are employed or self-employed. Lenders are not bothered about your employment status; they are more interested in your ability to pay. If you are employed, that means you are likely to get a fixed amount of salary at pre-determined intervals. It certainly boosts the confidence of the lenders as they are assured of their payments. This, however, does not diminish the chance of self-employed as there are plenty of ways through which self-employed can prove their repayment abilities.
The seeds of confusion surrounding the concept of “self-employed mortgages” were sowed with the abolition of self-certification mortgage back in 2014.
What were Self-Certification Mortgages?
Self-certification mortgages, or self-cert mortgages, enabled people to borrow money to buy a home without requiring them to disclose their income. The applicants disclosed their income to the lenders without the need for furnishing any concrete proof to back it up. Originally set up to help a minority of self-employed borrowers who generally found it difficult to prove their income and thus get a loan, this was quickly misused by unscrupulous borrowers who inflated their income to secure a higher loan amount.
The phenomenon became so widespread that self-cert mortgages quickly earned the nickname “liar loans”. Ultimately, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had to step in and the body outlawed self-certification mortgages in 2014. This made things a bit difficult for self-employed but by no means it made it impossible for them to secure a mortgage.
Also Read: Contractor Mortgages Guide
Getting a Mortgage: Employed vs. Self-Employed
The law requires the mortgage lenders to be sure of the borrower’s paying capacity before extending a loan. The onus as such is on the borrower who has to prove that they can keep up with the repayments. Therefore, it becomes slightly easy for employed people to convince the mortgage lender of their paying capacity.
Employees generally get a fixed amount as salary in a time bound manner from their employers. As such, they can through PAYE produce payslips and P60s to prove their income relatively easily. Mortgage lenders with enough evidence of a person’s earnings can quickly and conveniently calculate how much time the borrower will take to make complete repayment.
The PAYE system is automated. At the end of the month, they get their salary after the pre-determined tax is deducted from their overall salary. This makes it extremely convenient for mortgage lenders to figure out how much loan they can extend to the self-employed and how long will it take for the salaried person top pay back the loan in full along with the interest.
If you’re self-employed, things can get a more complicated. With taxes, dividends, invoices, bills and other sundry expenses to take care of, it becomes somewhat difficult to calculate your exact profit. This in turn makes it more difficult for the self-employed to prove that the net profit they are earning will be enough to cover mortgage repayments.
So what’s the way out of this dilemma? The answer is pretty simple
Proper organisation of your finances is the key. If you are planning to buy a house in near future, it is best if you start setting your house in order right from now. Better maintenance of your accounts is a good way to eliminate any doubts that may creep up in a lender’s mind about your ability to make full repayments in a timely manner.
This brings us to the all-important question:
How to improve the chances of being accepted?
Complete three SA302 Forms -When you apply for a mortgage, most lenders will request three SA302 forms (one for each of the last three years). Nonetheless, certain lenders will take two. You could print your SA302 computations if you submitted your self-assessment tax returns online. If you submitted your accounts via the postal system, you must contact HMRC and allow up to two weeks for your forms to arrive.
Organise your financial affairs -Prior to applying for a mortgage, conduct a financial spring cleaning. To begin, improve your credit score by repaying obligations on time, closing dormant accounts, ensuring there are no errors on your credit report, and enrolling in the electoral roll. Additionally, you should be mindful of your spending patterns in the year before you applying, as your lender will consider all routine outgoings.
Save for a Bigger Deposit -Same is the case with any home purchase. The bigger the deposit, the easier it is to acquire a favourable mortgage rate. Most lenders require a minimum deposit of 10%-20%, and if you don't have a long history of accounts, you may need a larger deposit to convince a lender that you're a safe bet.
Take professional mortgage advice -If you apply for a mortgage and are rejected by the lender, this will be reflected on your credit report. This can harm your credit score, making it less likely that you will be accepted by the next lender to whom you apply. A whole-of-market lender will be able to assess your personal circumstances and recommend the appropriate lenders to approach based on your credit history.
How a self-employed mortgage applicant will be evaluated?
If you are self-employed, your situation is likely to fall into one of the following three categories. This will have an effect on how your lender evaluates you.
If you're considering changing your company structure (for example, if you're a sole trader considering registering as a limited company), it may be beneficial to wait until after you've been accepted for a mortgage before making the change as company changes can have a negative impact on your application. This will change based on your circumstances, so if you're unsure, speak to a mortgage advisor.
Sole trader-If you're a one-man band, you (or your accountant) will self-assess your income, and HMRC will compute your tax. Once this is completed, you can get an SA302 form detailing your total income and tax payments. Lenders will then use this information to calculate mortgage payments.
Partnership -If you operate a business with another person as a partner, mortgage lenders will consider your individual share of the profits.
Limited company -By incorporating a limited company, you can keep your business and personal finances separate. As a director, you'll often earn a salary and dividends, which lenders will consider when you apply for a mortgage. If you want to retain profits in the business rather than drawing them out, this can create problems, as certain lenders do not take retained profits into account.
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