Self Employed Mortgages

Here to help you understand mortgages for the self-employed, contractors, limited company owners and freelancers.
Self Employed

Good To Know...

There are over 5 million self-employed people in the UK (Source: Office of National Statistics), yet when it comes to securing a mortgage, self-employed people have many more hoops to jump through than those in PAYE employment. 

Lenders need to know that you have a predictable, stable income, which isn’t always the case when you are self-employed. When applying for a mortgage, there are more checks to undergo and more paperwork to provide. 

There are many misconceptions around self-employed mortgages. Yes, you will have to provide more paperwork and evidence of income, but as long as you are keeping accurate records and your credit score is good, then you should be able to find a lender who will suit your needs. 

Who is classed as Self-Employed?

The term self-employment covers a range of circumstances. You could be registered as a contractor, sole trader or run your own company as a company director. 

If over 20% of your income is derived from these activities, then lenders can class you as self-employed for the purposes of a mortgage application. 

Proving your income...

Mortgage lenders will require you to provide proof of income. Usually, they will ask for up to three years of accounts. If you haven’t had your financial reporting done by a professional accountant, you may need them to provide you with financial accounts in the required standard. If you tend to do your accounts yourself, you may need them looked over and certified by an accountant before the lender is willing to accept them. 

If you are a contractor, you may be required to provide evidence of confirmed contracts. Company directors will need to show proof of dividends or retained profits. 

You will also need to provide accompanying SA302 forms, which are provided by HMRC. They confirm how much income you have reported in a particular tax year. If you have submitted your information to HMRC online, then you should be able to print out your SA302 forms directly from the online portal. 

As part of the necessary affordability checks, you will be required to provide bank statements showing expenditure. Depending on the lender, this could be anything from three months to a year’s worth of statements. 

You will also need to provide proof of deposit. In addition to the amount of money that you have, you will need to state where it has come from. For example, you may have saved up from your earnings, or it may have been gifted to you. If the money was a gift, you may have to provide evidence that you aren’t required to pay the money back, otherwise, it will be classed as an expenditure. Additional committed expenditure can impact the amount you can borrow. 

How do lenders calculate income?

Your income will be assessed in line with a lender’s specific criteria and how your self-employment is set up. For example:
  • Freelancers/sole traders – net profit
  • Partnerships – net profit (your share thereof)
  • Contractor – day rate (annualised)
  • Limited company – salary, dividend payments and retained profit

Lenders will also use an average of your reported income. For example, if a lender asks for three years of accounts. They will add your income for those three years together and then divide it by three, rather than taking the last year’s figure. So, if over the last three years your income was £50K, £50K and £70K, then the lender will average this out for an income of £56.6K per year.
Self Employed

How to improve your chances of being accepted by a lender

Obtaining a mortgage requires a host of financial and affordability checks. For self-employed people, it means even more financial hoops to jump through. But there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of being accepted.

Put down a larger deposit – the more deposit you can put down the less money you’ll need to borrow and the better the mortgage rate you will get. It really is worth trying to save up more for you deposit as it could improve your chances of being accepted and save you thousands of pounds in the interest of the repayment term.

Improve your credit score – correct any mistakes on your credit report and pay off as much debt as you can. Close any old accounts. Ensure that you are on the electoral roll at your current address.

Approach specialist lenders – in theory, self-employed people have the same access to mortgage products as everybody else. Yet there are some lenders who specialise in mortgages for the self-employed. Often, they are better placed to understand the ins and outs of being in self-employment and can offer you mortgage products that others would not.

Have your accounts up to date Ideally have more than one years accounts prepared and submitted.

Prepare your documents Make sure you have all the documents the lender will ask for ready at hand.

How has COVID-19 affected the mortgage market?

COVID-19 and its effect on the economy have prompted a number of lenders to withdraw certain mortgage products, making the process even more difficult. It’s not just mortgage lenders who have been reticent, credit card and loan providers have been doing this too.

While it’s uncertain how deeply and for how long the market will be affected, there are still options out there.

That is why it is vital that you get good financial advice and use a mortgage broker.