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How To Get A Mortgage When You’re A Self-Employed Home Buyer

Andrew Dehan3-minute read

April 03, 2023


When you’re self-employed and you want to buy a home, you fill out the same mortgage application as everyone else. Mortgage lenders also consider the same things when you’re a self-employed borrower: your credit score, how much debt you have, your assets and your income.

So what’s different? When you work for someone else, lenders go to your employer to verify the amount and history of that income and how likely it is you’ll keep earning it. When you’re self-employed, you are required to provide the necessary documentation to verify that your income is stable.

Qualifying For A Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

If you work for yourself, you’re probably already used to having to be more organized and keeping track of your income. That’ll help when it’s time to apply for a mortgage, and so will this overview of what to know and how to prepare.

What Are Mortgage Lenders Looking For?

You can expect lenders will want proof of the following things before considering you for a mortgage:

  • Income stability
  • The location and nature of your self-employment
  • The financial strength of your business
  • The ability of your business to generate sufficient income in the future

What Documents Do You Need To Provide?

To start the home buying process, you’ll need a history of uninterrupted self-employment income, usually for at least two years. Here are some examples of documents a lender might ask for.

Employment Verification

Employment verification is proof that you’re self-employed. It could include emails or letters from the following:

  • Current clients
  • A licensed certified personal accountant (CPA)
  • A professional organization that can attest to your membership
  • Any state or business license that you hold
  • Evidence of insurance for your business
  • A Doing Business As (DBA)

Income Documentation

Have proof of steady, reliable income, and you’re one step closer to getting approved for a mortgage. Note that even if you make consistent money now, your past income will also influence your ability to get a loan. Your lender will ask for the following:

  • Personal tax returns (including W-2s if you’re paid through your corporation)
  • Profit and loss statements, which could include a Schedule C, Form 1120S or K-1, depending on your business structure
  • Bank statements, which are monthly or quarterly documents that help your lender verify that you have sufficient funds to cover a down payment

What happens if you’ve been self-employed for less than two years?

You can still get a mortgage on your home, even if you’ve been self-employed for less than two years. Ultimately, your business must be active for a minimum of 12 consecutive months, and your most recent two years of employment (including non-self employment) must be verified.

In this situation, your lender will likely do an in-depth look at your training and education to determine whether your business can continue a track record of stability.

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Tips To Put Your Best Application Forward

As your own boss, you want your business to look its best to prospective clients. As someone who wants to buy a home, you want your loan application and financial status to look its best to lenders.

Tip 1: Check Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes toward paying your monthly debts. Lenders pay attention to it because you’re a less risky borrower when your DTI is low. That means you have more budget for a mortgage payment.

To calculate your DTI, divide your monthly recurring debt by your monthly income before taxes. Fluctuating monthly bills such as utilities, property taxes, groceries and repairs aren’t considered debts and aren’t taken into consideration when calculating DTI.

If your DTI is more than 50% and you want to get a mortgage, focus on reducing your debt before applying.

Tip 2: Keep An Eye On Your Credit

Lenders look at your credit history as an indication of your ability to repay your debts. Your credit history, which is recorded in your credit report, doesn’t take your income into consideration. Unlike your DTI, the higher your credit score, the more favorable position you’ll be in for a mortgage.

Another factor to your credit score that lenders consider is your credit utilization. This ratio measures how much of your available credit you use.

For example, if you have a credit limit of $10,000 and have a $6,000 balance on it, your ratio is 0.60, or 60%. Like your DTI, the lower your credit utilization ratio, the better it is for your credit score, which means it’s better for your mortgage application.

Tip 3: Keep Business Expenses Separate

If you charge business purchases, such as a new computer or office supplies, to your personal card, you’ll increase your credit utilization. This could have a negative effect on your application.

Keep your business and personal expenses separate by giving them their own accounts and credit cards. This will craft a more favorable, truthful profile on your application.

The Bottom Line

In order to apply for a mortgage while self-employed, you'll need to verify and document your income while maintaining a lower DTI and higher credit score.

Regardless of your employment status, preapproval is a vital first step in determining what kind of home loan is right for you. Get preapproved with Rocket Mortgage today!

Get approved to buy a home.

Rocket Mortgage® lets you get to house hunting sooner.

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Andrew Dehan

Andrew Dehan is a professional writer who writes about real estate and homeownership. He is also a published poet, musician and nature-lover. He lives in metro Detroit with his wife, daughter and dogs.