Self Employed Tips

Creative Offers

Putting together an offer on a home is easy if the buyer has a lot of money, a terrific job and impeccable credit. Many buyers are not in that precise situation, however. And while sellers like to get their asking price, good listing agents prepare them for the possibility of receiving offers that involve some compromises.

Successful real estate agents know how to put together creative offers and do whatever it takes to make a transaction work. If a buyer is low on cash, the agent may structure an offer that shifts closing costs to the seller, minimizing the amount of cash that the buyer needs to close. A variation of a lease purchase arrangement might be effective if a buyer has recently changed jobs or is self-employed. Owner-financing for part of the loan can make a difference in some cases. If your agent brings you a complex offer designed to get a buyer into your home, don't say "no" until you understand the offer.

If You Are Self Employed

There's no question that it could be more difficult for you to get a mortgage loan if you are a free lance viola player than if you are a government accountant. Traditionally, lenders have been more cautious when evaluating loan applications of buyers who are self-employed than people who work for a regular salary.

However, if you are self-employed, there is no reason for you to shy away from applying for a home mortgage loan, especially if your earnings have been in the same field for at least two years. It is a good idea to meet with one or more loan officers before you begin your search. They will probably want to analyze your tax returns for the past 2 or 3 years, keeping in mind that many self employed people can look impoverished on paper, since you can write off some expenses that salaried individuals can not. Try to get pre-approval from the lender, and ask for a letter stating that you have pre-qualified for a loan which your real estate agent can attach to any offer you submit on a home. This will make you more attractive to the sellers.

Lenders Want to Say Yes

If you wish to buy a home but consider yourself incapable of getting credit, you may be living in the past in terms of assessing your financial situation. Lenders have become more flexible in underwriting mortgage loans. 

A recent survey of mortgage lenders revealed some interesting trends. Ninety-six percent of those surveyed had cut their standard down payment requirements for moderate-income buyers, and 93% said they are more lenient regarding debt-to-income-ratios. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed said they now have more flexible approaches to credit histories, and look at rent and utility payments more than credit cards. Seventy-nine percent of lenders say they have relaxed employment criteria. They now look more at your capacity to generate a stable flow of income rather than requiring a long history at one job.

There are more lenders today, and they are in fierce competition with each other. The home loan industry has created entire markets that cater to those with less-than-perfect credit.

Mortgage Fears

It is not unusual for home buyers to feel that the lender is being very critical during the loan approval process. The buyer is required to provide all kinds of financial information, and then the lender asks for more. If this is your experience, and the process seems discouraging, remember that none of this is personal! 

Some lenders have more stringent requirements than others, but every lender requires a substantial amount of documentation on a mortgage loan. They must verify employment, credit history, and recent financial transactions involving your liquid assets. If your Visa payment was late, they may ask for a letter explaining why. If you are self-employed, they will ask for tax returns from at least three years and probably a year-to-date profit and loss statement. 

Government regulations require mortgage companies to document everything. And while the loan officer may know that you are a reliable risk, the underwriters must be able to defend the loan to a federal bank examiner or auditor.

Moving And Taxes

Even with the changes in tax laws over recent years, you may be able to deduct some of the expenses of a move that is the result of a change in your job.

You will probably be able to deduct the costs of your move if your new work location means more than an additional 50-mile commute, if you move within a year of taking the job at the new location, and if you work full-time for at least 39 weeks (the total is 78 weeks if you are self-employed). You should keep meticulous records of all of your expenses and consult a tax expert to make sure that you take all the lawful tax deductions allowed by the IRS criteria for expenses related to selling your old home or buying your new one. The IRS publication No. 521 entitled "Tax Information on Moving Expenses" makes good reading before you make a move.

New Loans

If you are considering applying for a mortgage to purchase a new home or to refinance your present home, don't delay. Despite fluctuation in interest rates, lenders are still processing many new loan applications.

You should gather all the necessary paperwork before you apply, and submit your loan application as soon as possible. At a minimum, the information required by a lender will consist of proof of your earnings and a clear picture of your total monthly income and expenses. If you are self-employed, or have long-term obligations such as alimony or child support, the preparation time and the amount of paperwork increases.

Despite the need to move rather quickly for a mortgage in today's market, you should "make haste carefully." Shop carefully for your loan by comparing all costs and terms. With the number of lenders vying for your business, new and better deals are always appearing.

No Problem

There is no doubt about the fact that it could be more difficult for you to get a mortgage loan if you are a free lance viola player than if you are a government accountant. Traditionally, lenders have been more cautious when evaluating loan applications from buyers who are self-employed than from those who work for a regular salary.

If you are self-employed, there is no reason for you to shy away from applying for a home mortgage loan, especially if your earnings have been in the same field for at least two years. Before you begin your search for a house, it is a good idea to meet with an agent of your choice who will be happy to accompany you as you meet with one or more loan officers. They will probably want to analyze your tax returns for the past 2 or 3 years. Because people who are self-employed can write off many expenses that salaried individuals cannot, it is possible that self-employed individuals may look impoverished on paper. Try to get pre-approval from the lender, and ask for a letter to that effect which the real estate agent can attach to any offer you submit on a home. This will make you look more attractive to the sellers.

Shirl A Thornton
Shirl A Thornton
Real Estate Professional