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Mortgage Financing for Self Employed Borrowers

by: Nat Criss

It was not too long ago when self employed borrowers were able to qualify for mortgage financing with stated income and no documentation loans. With stated income mortgages, lenders simply asked borrowers to "state their income". If their credit was decent, their income seemed plausible for their industry, and their home appraised, they likely were able to obtain financing. With a no-doc mortgage, lenders typically just based their qualifying decision upon the borrowers' credit scores. That's it. No other supporting income, asset, or employment verification was needed.

While the idea of stated income loans may have seemed like a noble effort to streamline the financing process for self employed individuals, both borrowers and mortgage companies manipulated the system which led to a disproportionate number stated and no-doc of loans entering into default as borrowers took on mortgages that they could not afford. When you coupled these unconventional lending practices with depreciating real estate values, borrowers ended up underwater and unable to refinance out of their adjustable rate mortgages or higher interest fixed rate loan.

Today, stated income and no-doc loans are like finding a needle in a haystack as lending standards have become more restrictive and self-employed borrowers are back to having to supply years of tax returns in order to be considered for financing.

What is involved with getting a mortgage for someone who is self-employed in today's marketplace?

If you are self-employed, applying for and getting approved for a home loan will follow generally the same mortgage process as for someone working for an employer. However, instead of documenting your income with a W-2 and a recent paystub there will be a little more paperwork involved. You will likely be asked to provide copies of some of the following items, and possibly additional items if your situation warrants it:

2 years tax returns

your business license

a letter from your accountant

a balance sheet and profit & loss statement for your business

Those who have been self employed for two years or more will most likely have an easier time getting approved, but that does not mean you will not qualify simply because you went into business for yourself six months ago. As with any other mortgage, lenders take many factors into account - employment is just one of them. Others include your credit report and score which shows your history of repaying debt, equity in the home, and the amounts of your assets and liabilities. If you are a good borrowing candidate based on these other factors you will likely stack the deck in your favor.

Factoring In Tax Liability - Impact of Write-Offs

When you are self-employed it is important to think about your ability to take out a loan not just when you want to buy a home, but also at tax time. The self-employed borrowers who generally run into problems are those who write off a large portion of their income as business expenses in order to decrease their tax burden. This can come back to haunt them when applying for a mortgage because their income looks much lower than it actually is on the only form most lenders can use to document it - tax returns.

About The Author

Nat Criss is a marketing professional who helps mortgage companies like American Financial Resources Correspondent Lending build their brands online.
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