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Top tips for the self-employed when applying for a mortgage

Over the past few years, the UK gig economy has been growing at a remarkable rate, as people up and down the country are drawn to the freedom, flexibility and potential rewards of becoming self-employed.

However, despite the Government, big businesses and employers supporting this booming trend, unfortunately the mainstream banking sector has failed to keep up with the fast pace of change. As a result, the self-employed often find it much harder to obtain a mortgage or loan than someone in full time employment.

Some of the issues that the self-employed face when applying for mortgages from a high street lender include having a variable or unpredictable income, a short trading history or difficulties in verifying their income. However, there are a number of simple yet affective tricks that those in self-employment can do to give themselves the best possible chance of getting approved.

Use a broker
Getting professional advice is invaluable for the self-employed when applying for a mortgage. Tapping into a broker’s specialist knowledge will enable you to get much more information than internet research alone on the full range of lenders and mortgage products available to you.

Check your credit history
Before applying for a mortgage, check online for any red flags in your credit history such as one-off missed payments or defaults, as these may go against you during the approval process. If you find out you have any adverse credit history, it’s worth going direct to specialist lenders such as ourselves who are more flexible when it comes to your credit score. The high street banks tend to have strict criteria on this but with a specialist lender, credit blips or even county court judgements against you and your business will not necessarily stop you from borrowing.

Get your books in order
To give you the best chance of success in the approval process, you need to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork in place before applying. It’s a good idea to speak to your accountant, or think about hiring one if you don’t already have one, as they will advise you on the financial accounts and income proof you’ll need in advance.

Try to increase the size of your deposit
Most high street lenders are restricted on how much they can lend by the size of an applicant’s deposit, with first charge mortgages having a maximum loan to value (LTV) of 75% and second charge mortgages (also known as secured loans) requiring an LTV of 77.5%. If you’re falling short of this, you may need to either find a way to increase the size of your deposit, or if this isn’t possible, speak to a specialist lender, as some, like us, offer mortgage rates that are less dependent on your LTV.

Have your paperwork ready
Typically, self-employed workers have to prove more income history than someone in full-time employment when applying for a mortgage or loan. For example, many high street lenders require at least three years’ trading history for a self-employed mortgage applicant, compared to just three months’ worth of payslips for someone who is employed full time. If you’ve recently become self-employed and therefore don’t have this amount of income history yet, it’s worth talking to a specialist like us instead. We accept one year’s accounts and projected income when reviewing loan applications.

If you fail at first, don’t give up
The self-employed often struggle to get a mortgage from mainstream lenders as they simply don’t comply with the pre-set affordability requirements that many high street banks and building societies have in place. If this is the case, look for lenders that offer more of an individual approach to lending decisions, who will assess applications on a case by case basis.

Don’t worry if you’ve never had a mortgage before
Being both self-employed and a first-time buyer unfortunately can add an extra layer of complexity to the mortgage approval process, since you don’t have a mortgage payment history to fall back on. If you find yourself struggling to obtain your first mortgage, it’s worth considering what other options are available to get you onto the housing ladder, including shared ownership, right-to-buy or specialist mortgage products.

Whatever steps you decide to take it's important to remember that, even if you aren’t approved for a mortgage by a high street lender, there are still lots of options open to you to get the finance you need, with lenders that will take a different view on your credit history, how long you have been self-employed or your level of income.

Find out more about our self-employed mortgages here.