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Can I get a mortgage as a freelancer?

The latest industry news and guides from Active Mortgages.

If you work as a freelancer, you may have heard that obtaining a mortgage isn’t feasible. However, that’s a misconception! While it might pose more challenges compared to those in traditional full-time roles, securing a mortgage is certainly achievable.

In this guide

More individuals than ever are embracing freelance work. Despite this, many believe that owning a house is completely unattainable. Even if you don’t fit the traditional 9-5 job criteria for a mortgage, you can still become a homeowner. You’ll simply need to locate the right lender and a broker who will invest extra effort into your application.

Mortgage providers usually favour individuals in full-time employment because their income is straightforward to comprehend. This is due to their consistent monthly earnings. As freelancers, we recognise that you often earn even more than those on a fixed salary, which should make you more appealing to mortgage lenders…right? Unfortunately not – most mainstream banks aren’t equipped to handle intricate income structures, which can complicate the mortgage application process. However, be assured that with the guidance of an expert and a specialised lender, it is usually achievable.

Within this guide, you’ll discover everything necessary to secure a mortgage as a freelancer. We’ll clarify how you’ll be evaluated, what preparations are required, strategies to enhance your chances, and more.

Can I get a mortgage as a freelancer?

Certainly possible! However, you’ll need to put in a bit more effort into your application compared to individuals in full-time positions.

Obtaining a mortgage can pose more challenges for freelancers since you have to SUBSTANTIATE your income. Simply providing three months of payslips – as expected from a regular employee – won’t suffice. There are a few additional steps you’ll need to follow.

It’s crucial to understand that mainstream lenders (high-street banks) often view freelancers as riskier prospects. Typically, they don’t invest the time to comprehend your income structure. They might even insist it’s impossible – which isn’t accurate. Most lenders prefer ‘standard individuals’; those in steady jobs with consistent incomes that are paid… well, regularly. Fortunately, there are many lenders who don’t hold this viewpoint.

There are numerous lenders willing to provide you with a mortgage. You simply need to connect with the right broker. That’s where we can assist. Submit an enquiry to speak with an expert and explore your options for a freelance mortgage.

Am I classified as a freelancer?

A freelancer is an individual who is self-employed and undertakes short-term work for various clients and diverse projects. Often, people choose freelance work due to the freedom it offers in selecting their tasks and determining their working hours. Designers, writers, and journalists frequently fall under the category of freelancers.

Distinguishing freelancers from contractors, freelancers engage with multiple clients simultaneously. However, akin to contractors, being self-employed rather than employed means they do not receive traditional employee benefits. Fortunately, they can compensate for this by charging higher fees to businesses. Cha-Ching!

Whether you’re a freelancer, contractor, or an employee aspiring to step onto the property ladder, we can lend a hand. Submit an enquiry to speak with one of our Mortgage Experts – they possess the expertise to guide you through the process.

What do I need to do to apply for a mortgage as a freelancer?

When applying for a mortgage as a freelancer, lenders will assess similar criteria as they do for an employee. This evaluation encompasses your income, age, and credit score. Additionally, lenders may pose supplementary inquiries to ensure your ability to manage the monthly repayments:

  • What category of freelancer do you belong to?
  • How long have you been operating as a freelancer?
  • How many clients are you currently serving?
  • Have your previous contracts been renewed, or otherwise?
  • What is your level of expertise and how much tenure have you spent in your field?
  • What are the durations of your ongoing contracts?

How will my income be assessed as a freelancer?

As a freelancer, your income will undergo a different assessment compared to that of an employee. You’ll need to disclose details about your work, credit history, and substantiate your earnings. This necessity arises from the fact that freelancers’ income tends to fluctuate significantly, unlike individuals in full-time employment with fixed salaries. Although proving your freelance income may require extra effort, it’s undoubtedly worthwhile!

During the application process, you’ll typically be required to provide comprehensive business accounts or tax returns. These documents encompass all your income and expenditures throughout your trading period. Having a more extended history of accounts is advantageous (ideally three years or more), although some specialised lenders may accept a 12-month record. For further insights, refer to our self-employment guide, particularly if you’ve been trading for less than 12 months.

Lenders will evaluate your application based on your most recent income, seeking stability and reliability. They must have confidence in your ability to manage mortgage repayments and may hesitate to approve a mortgage for a freelancer if there’s a perceived risk of income gaps. Providing evidence of future work contracts can significantly enhance your approval chances.

In addition to your accounts, lenders typically request at least three months of bank statements and your credit report. This scrutiny aims to assess your spending habits and loan repayment history. Sole traders will require an SA302 tax return from HMRC, while limited companies will need accounts certified by a qualified accountant.

The specific requirements may vary based on your freelance work structure and the lender’s criteria. However, there’s usually a considerable list of items to prepare, so it’s advisable to organise these documents as soon as possible.

How much can I borrow as a freelancer?

As a freelancer, the variability of your income can complicate the determination of how much you can borrow. Most lenders typically calculate your affordability by averaging your net income from the last three years. This method also applies if you operate as a sole trader. However, if you serve as a director of a limited company, lenders might additionally consider your salary, dividends, and occasionally your retained profits.

For freelancers with primarily contract-based work, lenders often evaluate the collective value of your contracts. Alternatively, some lenders may assess your affordability based on your day-rate.

Lenders usually conduct an affordability assessment to determine the lending amount. As a freelancer, this commonly equates to around three times your annual earnings. Yet, some mortgage lenders may extend this limit to five or even six times your earnings.

Furthermore, lenders review other affordability factors, including your deposit amount, existing financial commitments (such as debt repayments and fixed outgoings), and your credit history. Rest assured, they scrutinise these criteria for employed applicants as well.

What deposit will I need as a freelancer?

The deposit required varies among mortgage lenders and is contingent upon your individual circumstances. However, the larger your deposit, the greater initial ownership you’ll have of the property, leading to a smaller mortgage requirement.

Mortgage lenders employ their own criteria to determine the amount they can lend, which doesn’t typically differ significantly for freelancers compared to full-time employees. Nonetheless, most lenders usually request a minimum of a 10% deposit for a standard residential mortgage.

The borrowing amount is influenced by your loan-to-value ratio, your earnings history, and the duration you’re willing to commit to a fixed-interest rate. Opting for a longer fixed interest rate term often enables borrowers to access higher loan amounts, as it instils confidence in the lender regarding your ability to consistently repay.

Can I get a Buy to Let mortgage as a freelancer?

Securing a Buy to Let mortgage can pose more challenges for freelancers, but it remains achievable.

Numerous lenders stipulate a minimum income requirement ranging from £15,000 to over £25,000. Demonstrating these figures can be more demanding for freelancers with variable incomes.

Thankfully, there are specialised lenders open to considering freelancers regardless of their income level. However, owning your primary residence is usually a prerequisite, and the rental income from the Buy to Let property must cover at least the mortgage repayments.

In cases where you don’t currently own a property, lenders might express concern that you intend to utilise the Buy to Let property as your primary residence, which could lower the likelihood of approval.

Can I get a mortgage as a freelancer if I have bad credit?

For freelancers with bad credit, obtaining a mortgage can be notably more challenging. The options may be limited as only a few lenders might entertain such cases. However, the feasibility ultimately hinges on your specific circumstances.

We consistently recommend efforts to enhance your credit score, providing you with a stronger chance of securing a mortgage. Nonetheless, there exist specialist lenders who are open to considering freelancers with adverse credit histories. The type of mortgage accessible to you depends on factors such as the desired loan amount, the timeline of the credit issues, and the underlying reasons behind them.

Can I get a joint mortgage as a freelancer?

Being a freelancer should not hinder you from pursuing a joint mortgage, but being aware of certain aspects can streamline the application process.

When seeking a joint mortgage as a freelancer, lenders are more inclined to approve your application if your co-applicant is in full-time employment. While fluctuations in your income become less critical when purchasing jointly, demonstrating consistent earnings remains essential. If showcasing stable earnings poses a challenge, you might find it advantageous to explore a guarantor mortgage.

Guarantor mortgages involve a family member providing a guarantee secured against their own property. Opting for this approach can enhance your chances of mortgage approval, potentially enabling you to borrow more than if applying on your own. Moreover, you might even qualify for lower interest rates. To gain deeper insights into how guarantor mortgages operate, read more about their functionalities.

How can I boost my chances of getting a mortgage as a freelancer?

Securing a mortgage as a freelancer might present more challenges compared to being employed, but it’s entirely achievable.

Here are some tips to enhance your chances of mortgage approval:

Be prepared!

Understand how your income will be assessed to determine your borrowing capacity. 

Mind the gap

Aim to maintain consistency in your earnings for at least 12 months before applying. Avoid significant gaps in your income, as lenders seek stability.

Ay-up accountants

If you’re a limited company director, involve a certified accountant in preparing your accounts. Discuss your mortgage plans with them for guidance.

Say YES to long-term and repeat business

Showcase repeat business or long-term contracts to demonstrate income stability. Provide additional documentation to reinforce the strength of your business to the lender.

Don’t ignore your credit score

Take steps to maintain a healthy credit file. Correct any errors, register to vote, and ensure timely bill payments. Find more tips in our 2024 affordability guide. 

Big up your deposit

Consider a larger deposit to decrease the loan amount and showcase commitment. A bigger deposit reduces the lender’s risk, potentially improving your chances. Alternatively, purchasing a more affordable property lowers the loan-to-value ratio.

Implementing these tips can bolster your eligibility and increase the likelihood of obtaining a mortgage as a freelancer.

  • How does being self-employed or a freelancer impact my mortgage eligibility?

    Self-employment can affect the mortgage process. Lenders typically assess your income differently compared to salaried individuals. They may request several years of accounts or tax returns to evaluate your earnings stability.

  • What documents do freelancers need to provide when applying for a mortgage?

    As a freelancer, you'll likely need to provide proof of income, such as SA302 forms, tax returns, or certified accounts for the past two to three years. Lenders may also request bank statements to verify your financial stability.

  • Can I get a mortgage if I have irregular income as a freelancer?

    Yes, it's possible. Some lenders offer specialist mortgages tailored to freelancers with irregular income. They might consider your average earnings over time or offer flexible terms that suit your unique income patterns.

  • Are there specific mortgage products designed for freelancers or self-employed individuals?

    Absolutely! Certain lenders provide mortgages specifically designed for self-employed individuals. These mortgages may have more flexible criteria, considering your circumstances as a freelancer.

Conclusion

Understanding mortgage affordability is crucial when navigating the process of buying a property, ensuring that you make informed decisions aligned with your financial capabilities and goals.

Remember, George, while being a freelancer might pose some challenges, many lenders offer products catering to individuals with varied income sources. It’s advisable to seek advice from a mortgage broker who understands the complexities of self-employment to find the best-suited mortgage for you.

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