Getting a Mortgage as a Freelancer
Getting a mortgage as a freelancer is notoriously difficult, but by no means impossible. The difficulty lies in proving your self-employed income to the lender, which can be a bit more complicated than simply declaring your payslips if you’re in regular employment.
In many cases your earnings fluctuate from month to month, so you have varying levels of income throughout the year, you have little job security and you may also need to make significant investments into your own business from time to time.
All of these factors can make lenders nervous, but that doesn’t mean that freelancers can’t access the same mortgage rates as those in regular full-time employment. For that reason, you won’t find a special self-employed mortgage to apply for, as freelancers have to go through exactly the same process.
So don’t be discouraged if you’re self-employed and looking to purchase a property. Just make sure you have plenty of evidence to prove your earnings to the lender. Below we’ve included a few things to consider as well as some practical advice on getting a mortgage as a freelancer.
Many lenders are happy to give mortgages to self-employed workers or freelancers if they’ve been trading for more than three years and have two years of tax returns and business accounts to prove income.
If you’re thinking of getting a self-employed mortgage soon, but haven’t been trading long enough, it’s better to wait until you can provide the lender with the evidence they require before putting in an application.
On the plus side, this will give you a little more time to continue to build your business and save more money towards your deposit should you need to.
Some lenders will impose stricter rules on the amount of deposit you’ll need to get a freelance mortgage, so you may need to dig a little deeper to come up with the extra funds before they’ll accept you for a mortgage.
This isn’t always the case though, as some lenders may prefer to see future profit projections to ensure that you can afford the repayments now and in the years to come.
Shop around to find reputable lenders who are well-known for offering self-employed mortgages and approach them first to see what kind of deposit or projections they’ll expect to see.
Once you’ve decided which one you feel offers the best fit for your circumstances, you can apply for your mortgage.
Keep your files in order
To really increase your chances of being accepted for a freelancer mortgage, you’ll need to make sure that all of your accounts and tax returns are up-to-date and in good order, as the lender will need to see this evidence before considering you for a mortgage.
This, along with a solid credit rating, a healthy deposit and watertight accounts, will go in your favour, so do all that you can now before making an application.
What is your self-employed status?
The lender might also be interested in how you would classify yourself as a self-employed worker. Whilst the most common is freelancer or contractor, you might actually be a sole trader or even a company director. Here is a bit of information on each:
- Sole trader – normally 3 years’ worth of accounts is enough to prove to a lender that you have a consistent income. As mentioned, you might also be able to use profit projections as a way to lend credibility to your application
- Contractor or freelancer – whilst a freelancer can use 3 years’ worth of accounts, they might also charge a daily rate like a contractor. The lender will simply multiply this by the amount of working days in the year, but will still need a contract history as further proof
- Director of a limited company – a lender will usually require a director’s salary and dividends, or base their earnings on the retained profit of the company instead
Thinking of going freelance?
If you’re now just thinking of going freelance but would still like to get a mortgage in the future, you might want to think about your timing. The question is, are you willing to delay going freelance, or getting a mortgage?
Ideally, if you would like to get a mortgage in the next year, it might be more beneficial to stay in full-time employment until your mortgage has gone through. This makes the process of applying for a mortgage and the chances of being accepted far more straightforward. Once you have your new home, going freelance should be easy, as long as you have a regular income and can still afford the mortgage.
On the other hand, if you go self-employed now, you may have to wait for 3 years before you apply for a mortgage so you have enough evidence to prove your earnings. So think long and hard before committing to the freelance lifestyle if you also want a house.
Why not take our quiz to see if self-employment is the way forward for you?
If you need some more general advice about applying for a mortgage and are also a first time buyer, read our guide here or our top 5 practical tips for first-time buyers. Or, if you’re ready to take a look at some mortgage deals after doing your research, head over to our mortgage page here. Good luck!