Can I get a mortgage if I’m self-employed?
This myth-busting guide to self-employed mortgages explains how you can still get a mortgage if you're self employed
Is it harder to get a mortgage if you're self-employed?
If you’re self-employed, it can be more of a challenge to get a mortgage because you’ll need to prove you have a reliable income. But getting a mortgage when self-employed is certainly not impossible.
There are plenty of ways to prove to a mortgage lender that you have a reliable income, it’s usually just a case of jumping through a few extra hoops.
What are self-certification mortgages and do they still exist?
“Self-certification” or “self-cert” mortgages were specifically designed for the self-employed and allowed them to self-certify how much they earnt in a given year, with no need to provide evidence.
However, self-cert mortgages were banned completely in 2014 due to concerns borrowers were being accepted for mortgages they couldn’t afford.
This means those who are self-employed now need to apply for a mortgage in the same way as everyone else.
What counts as self-employed?
Lenders will view you as self-employed if you own more than 20% to 25% of a business, from which you earn your main income.
You could be a sole trader, company director, or contractor.
How do you get a self-employed mortgage?
If you’re self-employed and looking for a mortgage, you will, in theory, have access to the same range of mortgages as everybody else and you’ll need to pass the lender’s affordability tests in the same way as any other borrower.
But because there is no employer to vouch for your wage, self-employed people are required to provide far more evidence of their income than other borrowers.
Since the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in 2014, mortgage providers have considerably tightened up their lending criteria and need to be convinced you can afford your mortgage before they agree to lend you the money.
What will I need to provide for a self-employed mortgage?
To prove your income when you apply for a self-employed mortgage, you will need to provide:
Two or more years’ certified accounts
SA302 forms or a tax year overview (from HMRC) for the past two or three years
Evidence of upcoming contracts (if you’re a contractor)
Evidence of dividend payments or retained profits (if you’re a company director)
Lenders also prefer self-employed mortgage applicants to provide accounts that have been prepared by a qualified, chartered accountant; that way they can be sure of your reliability. It’s likely that they will focus on the average profit you’ve earned over the past few years.
If you only have accounts for one year or even less, you may find it a challenge to convince a lender that you can afford to repay a mortgage – but, again, it’s not impossible. Having evidence that you’ve got regular work or providing proof of future commissions may help.
Just be aware your choice of mortgages may be more limited.
Having a healthy deposit and a good credit history will also help your chances of securing a mortgage when you’re self-employed.
As well as providing evidence of your income, you will also need to provide:
Council tax bill
Utility bills dated within three months
Six months worth of bank statements
Lenders will want to examine your bank statements to look at how much you spend on bills and other costs to be certain you could afford your mortgage repayments. They may ask about:
Travel and commuting costs
Credit card and store card repayments
Car finance agreements
Catalogue credit accounts
Do self-employed people have to pay higher mortgage rates?
Self-employed mortgages aren’t necessarily more expensive. As long as you’re able to supply enough information about your income, you should qualify for the same mortgage deal as someone with a comparable salary in a permanent, full-time job.
The mortgage rate you get is much more likely to depend on the size of your deposit, as well as your credit rating.
The more can put down as a deposit, and the higher your credit rating, the better your mortgage rate is likely to be.
However, if you struggle to get accepted by a mainstream bank, you may have to apply with a specialist lender that deals with self-employed borrowers, and you may find the rates are higher.
How to boost your mortgage chances
There are a number of steps you can take to increase your chances of being accepted for a mortgage when self-employed, such as:
Save as much as you can for a deposit
Check your credit rating for free with MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor
Correct any mistakes on your credit report
Get on the electoral roll
Avoid buying certain properties such as flats above commercial premises or old or unusual buildings as lenders are less willing to lend on these
Speak to a mortgage broker
Look for a mortgage with a specialist lender
How to find the best mortgage deals for the self-employed
The best way to find a competitive self-employed mortgage is by shopping around and comparing mortgage deals on MoneySuperMarket. Select the type of mortgage you’re interested in, enter the amount you need to borrow, the duration of the term and the property value and you’ll be able to compare quotes easily and quickly.
The mortgage quotes are automatically sorted by monthly cost, showing you those that are the most affordable on a monthly basis. When comparing deals, make sure you factor in the cost of any fees as you may find it cheaper to go for a mortgage with a higher interest rate but lower fee.
If you’re struggling to get accepted by mainstream lenders, you may find that using a specialist broker will improve your chances of securing a mortgage.
A specialist broker should have useful knowledge of which banks and building societies are more willing to lend to those who are self-employed, which have the strictest lending criteria and which are most likely to offer a competitive interest rate to a self-employed borrower.