Braving the Wilds as a Self-Employed Borrower

 

Self-employed – The fastest growing group of alternative borrowers, business for self-clients sometimes struggle to provide income verification that meets the conditions required by prime lenders. With 1 in 5 working Canadians now in business for themselves, this is an important segment that deserves extra consideration for your marketing efforts.

Amy De La Hunt, a writer and editor in St. Louis, gathered mountains of documentation last year to apply for a mortgage as a self-employed borrower.

She had several years of tax filings and contracts to establish a track record for her income. Then, midway through the process of buying a home in suburban Crestwood, she started a full-time job.

“Once I had only one pay stub from my full-time employer, then everything was like magic,” De La Hunt said. “It opened my eyes to how much easier it is.”

For all the benefits that being self-employed imparts, getting a mortgage is not among them.

Self-employed borrowers receive six loan quotes for every 10 received by people pulling down W-2s, according to a Zillow Mortgages analysis.

Lower credit scores are one of the primary factors, according to the analysis, which used a database that logs nearly 2 million loan requests a month.

Among self-employed workers, 47 percent have self-reported credit scores below 720, compared with 23 percent among those who are not self-employed. That’s despite the fact that self-employed borrowers report household incomes that are 81 percent higher and make larger down payments than those who are not self-employed.

Business vs. personal debt

The lower credit scores might not always be a reflection of a self-employed borrower’s ability to pay, said Staci Titsworth, regional mortgage sales manager for PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.

Some business owners take out car loans and open credit card accounts in their own names, even though these are strictly for company use. That boosts the business owners’ debt volume, which can count against their credit score, Titsworth said.

Lenders can sort through situations like this, but it takes paperwork — on top of copious filings already required of self-employed borrowers (two years of personal tax returns with all schedules attached, plus two years of business tax returns for each business).

Loyal customers with a solid history of making loan payments are often incredulous at how much paperwork is required — and how inflexible the rules are, Titsworth said.

“It can be overwhelming for someone who’s successfully self-employed, who owns all these businesses and is a loyal bank customer, to hear us say we’re missing this one schedule from 2013. They’re like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said.

Some people will respond, “You can see I have enough cash to pay for this house; isn’t that good enough? And we have to say, ‘No, we need that paperwork,’” she added.

Keep calm & gather documents

The good news is that, at the other end, it’s entirely possible for many people who are self-employed to qualify for a mortgage.

“A lot of people think artists can’t ever buy homes, or that if you’re self-employed, you can’t buy a home — but we’re here and we each have our own studio and a weekend house,” said Linda Hesh, an artist in Hollin Hills, VA, who lives in a mid-century modern home with her husband, hand engraver Eric Margry.

They’ve been through the home financing and refinancing process many times. They found at the start that lenders wanted a larger down payment from them than from people who weren’t self-employed.

And then there’s the paperwork.

“You just have to do it; it’s going to be a lot of pages,” Hesh said.

She recommends finding a real estate agent who’s comfortable working with self-employed borrowers, because “they can be really helpful.”

So can staying calm, she said.

Source: Zillow.com – BY ON 19 DEC 2014

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