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Debunking the myths surrounding self-employed lending – Chris Hall

by: Chris Hall, operations director at Mortgage Guardian
  • 29/02/2016
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Debunking the myths surrounding self-employed lending – Chris Hall
A self-cert lender based in the Czech Republic has made waves in recent weeks with claims it could help to fill a gap in the UK lending market. Chris Hall of Mortgage Guardian discusses some of the myths of self-employed lending and how brokers can help these clients.

Being the boss and making your own decisions are some of the reasons why people make that all important lifestyle change and become self-employed. For others becoming self–employed is a necessity or even a shrewd financial decision. If your clients run a tight ship, then getting a mortgage may not be any more difficult than if they were employed.

The myths about getting a mortgage if you are self-employed are far and wide, with most people thinking that it is much harder to get a mortgage now that self-certification mortgages from UK lenders have disappeared. Here we look through some of the most common misconceptions.

“I do not have three years’ accounts” – Lenders often once insisted that applicants have three years’ accounts to prove average profit but this has not been the case for several years now. While some lenders still require three years’ accounts or SA302 plus HMRC tax year overview, there are lenders who will accept just two years’ accounts with one high street lender who will lend at 95% LTV on just one year’s worth of accounts.

“It is harder to get a mortgage because I am a contractor” – Different lenders have different views on contractors. This is mainly because some contractors are on fixed short-term contracts whilst others are freelancers, consultants or professional contractors from industries such as IT, legal or healthcare. Certainly lenders will want to see the current contract to find out when the contract started and how long is left to run as well as find out how long your client has been in their current industry. Some lenders will be interested how long they have been contracting and the likelihood of the contract being renewed.

Lenders may ask for different paperwork depending on whether your client is a sole trader, director of a limited company, partner of a LLC, freelancer or contract worker. A good adviser who knows their craft will be able to identify what each various lender expects in terms of the paperwork needed before submitting an application. Once lending criteria has been met, self-employed clients will usually benefit from the same rates as employed applicants on a like-for-like basis.

Affordability is often an issue with the self-employed who declare a low income for tax purposes which then conflicts with the need to show enough income on a mortgage application to support the size of the loan.

If a self-employed client is prepared to buy a property for investment purposes, then a buy-to-let mortgage could be a way forward with no minimum income requirements from some lenders.

This year we have seen self-cert mortgages come back into the marketplace after a new lender made waves by opening up an office in Prague, Czech Republic offering mortgages on UK property. We looked at one case study and wondered how many of the 7,500 applications the company claimed to receive actually could have got a mortgage in the UK.

“I have just turned 60 and although I have a 70% deposit for the home I want, I’m struggling to get a mortgage due to having a self-employed status since I retired last year. With no accounts yet, and no history of trading, nobody is allowed to lend me anything.”

A lot depends on circumstances, how much the self-employed income is and whether there is any pension income to consider. If the applicant can wait until the first year’s accounts are complete which may not be that long, then a mortgage can possibly be placed with a UK mainstream lender. If there is no time to wait and the applicant fits equity release criteria, then a lifetime mortgage could be suitable for a new property purchase as income is not a vital factor.

Bower Retirement had this to say: “The self-employed income is an addition and is not a factor with a lifetime mortgage, but of course the borrower needs to understand the risks, and a lot could depend on just how much self-employed income they are making. For example, if it’s a large amount then the customer may want to be in a position to pay off the mortgage earlier, in which case careful consideration of early repayment charges is vital. This is a case where advice would be needed but a lot would depend on their personal circumstances.”

Borrowers should think carefully before taking out a mortgage on their main home with a lender based in a different country. The FCA are unable to regulate this activity in the same way as UK mortgages and clients are unable to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service should they be unhappy. An overseas lender only has to abide by the law of the country in which it is based in and they may not be obligated to offer advice, ensure the mortgage is affordable or be sympathetic if there is a difficulty making payments.

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