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Freelancer Mortgages

Are you a freelancer in need of a mortgage? In that case, here is a brief guide that will help you know all about mortgages for freelancers.
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Freelancing has become increasingly popular over the years, as it offers greater work flexibility than traditional employment. 

You have more freedom when choosing clients and can work from different locations. But with so many advantages, there are a few downsides to freelancing as well. And one of the most significant ones is that getting a mortgage while working as a freelancer can be quite difficult.

The reason is quite simple – in freelancing, there is no assured fixed income every month. This makes freelancer mortgages high-risk options for lenders, as there is no guarantee that the income will be maintained.

That said, there are still some ways by which you can get a mortgage, and this guide will explain how. 

Who Is Classified As A Freelancer?

Freelancer

People who usually work on a short-term basis on various projects and for different clients are generally considered freelancers.

As of May 2023, there are around 4.39 million self-employed people in the UK, including freelancers. It is important to understand that freelancers are not the same as contractors.

While contractors tend to work for a single client at a time via a contract, freelancers can work for multiple clients. But in both cases, there are no employee benefits as they are considered self-employed.

Nonetheless, graphic designers, writers, SEO freelancers, artists, and other freelancers can get a mortgage. 

Getting Freelancer Mortgages

The first thing to know when applying for a mortgage as a freelancer is that there are no specially designed mortgages for freelancers.

Regular mortgages that are available for employed applicants are also available for freelancers. The difference lies not in the mortgage but in the assessment process and lending criteria. 

As with employed people, lenders require evidence of income as part of the assessment process when you apply for a mortgage as a freelancer.

But since freelance work can vary widely in nature and scope, providing such evidence is usually not as easy. You need to prove that the income is guaranteed or very likely to continue. 

This can be done by providing bank statements alongside a copy of the HMRC self assessment income tax returns for a specific period to the lender.

The period may range from one to three years, depending on the lender and the nature of your freelance work. For instance, a sole trader may need to provide the required details through the SA302 form.

How Much Can You Borrow As A Freelancer?

Your income can fluctuate significantly from one year to the next in freelancing. That is why many lenders consider the average income for the last three years when assessing such an application.

Depending on that, they may allow borrowing between three and five times the income, but it is vital to understand what earnings can be classified as income. 

For sole traders, lenders use the net profit to determine eligibility. On the other hand, for a director of a limited company, they may consider the dividends and the salary earned. Similarly, for contract-based freelancing work, the total value of the contracts may be used. 

Deposit Required For A Freelancer Mortgage

When applying for any mortgage, the minimum deposit usually considered adequate is 10% of the total loan amount. However, since getting a mortgage as a freelancer is difficult, it is a good idea to put down a larger deposit, if possible.

A larger deposit can increase the chances of getting your mortgage application approved. Certain lenders may allow a 5% deposit in certain rare instances. 

The reason is that a larger deposit can help reduce the risk for the lender. If possible, consider putting down a deposit of at least 25%. Another advantage of a larger deposit is that it can result in better rates and offerings. 

Getting A Mortgage As A Freelancer With Bad Credit

If you have been unable to pay debts on time, it can result in a bad credit score. In such cases, the possibility of being unable to pay future debts is also higher.

This means that most lenders may be unwilling to lend you money since the risk is higher and the chances of repayment are lower. 

As such, for a freelancer with bad credit, finding a lender willing to provide a mortgage can be quite challenging. In most such cases, you will need to find a lender specialising in bad credit loans to get a mortgage.

Such lenders consider factors, such as how recent was the bad credit incident when assessing an applicant.

Another thing to remember is that lenders willing to provide mortgages with bad credit generally charge higher interest or may require a larger deposit. You can consult a specialist mortgage broker to find out how to get a freelancer mortgage with bad credit.    

Can You Get A Joint Mortgage As A Freelancer?

Joint Mortgage and Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor

It is possible to get a joint mortgage as a freelancer with someone else, but you will need to find out which lenders offer such mortgages. When looking to get a joint mortgage as a freelancer, it can be beneficial to get such a mortgage with someone employed full-time potentially. 

In such cases, fluctuations in income may not be as important, but you need to provide evidence of stable earnings, which is easier with someone whose income is assured providing their income is heavily weighted against what you are looking to borrow.

If that is not possible, you may consider a joint borrower sole proprietor mortgage with someone contributing to affordability who is not on the deeds. 

A joint borrower sole proprietor is usually a friend or family member who is willing to contribute their income & expenditure to the overall affordability.

This can improve your chances of getting a mortgage and may even allow borrowing a larger amount with lower interest rates. 

Improving Your Chances Of Getting A Mortgage As A Freelancer

Here are a few ways by which you can improve your chances of getting a mortgage as a freelancer. 

1. Maintain Good Credit 

Maintaining a good credit score can help convince lenders that your debts are paid on time, with no outstanding dues.

2. Put Down A Larger Deposit

As explained above, a larger deposit reduces the risk for the lender and makes them more willing to provide a loan.

3. Avoid Gaps In Income

Try to ensure that there are no long gaps in your income and the income earned from different clients is the same or can increase.

Having long-term contracts or repeat clients can help ensure this. You could assess your own personal or business bank statements to see if there is some continuity in this. 

4. Consult A Mortgage Specialist

A mortgage specialist can be very helpful when getting a freelancer mortgage as they can inform you about the various options available. They can also provide guidance to make the assessment process easier. 

FAQs

1. Can you get a buy-to-let mortgage as a freelancer?

Getting a buy-to-let mortgage as a freelancer can be more difficult than a regular residential mortgage. This is because lenders often set a minimum income requirement for such mortgages when it comes to self-employed individuals. You should also have your own home, and the rental income should be able to cover the cost of repayments.

2. Is it possible to get a freelancer mortgage without submitting two years’ tax returns?

Most lenders require at least two years’ tax returns to assess eligibility when providing a mortgage. However, it is possible to find specialist lenders willing to consider tax returns for a single year if your income is stable and your credit history is good. 

3. Can you get a mortgage based on freelance income while being employed?

Regularly employed people freelancing in their spare time may be able to use their freelance income when getting a mortgage. But this will require finding a lender who accepts such income for the purpose, which is not the case everywhere. This will open up additional criteria such as second job criteria etc.. which will need to be met. 

4. How long do you have to be a freelancer before getting a mortgage?

Mortgage lenders require freelancers to have at least two years’ worth of accounts or tax returns to prove a consistent income before they can apply for a mortgage.

Conclusion

Getting a mortgage as a freelancer does require more effort compared to getting a mortgage as a regularly employed person. The biggest obstacle is providing the lender evidence of regular income, but with proper planning and management of finances, it can be overcome. 

And if you can manage to find the right lender, it may even be possible to get a mortgage with low-interest rates and favourable terms. This may require the help of a mortgage advisor, so consider consulting one before applying for a mortgage.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

All content is written by qualified mortgage advisors to provide current, reliable and accurate mortgage information. The information on this website is not specific for each individual reader and therefore does not constitute financial advice.

Our goal is simple - to provide most up-to-date and accurate mortgage information to make your mortgage journey as stress-free as possible. Have a question? Fill up the quick form and one of our mortgage advisor will connect with you.

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