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The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Mortgage When You're Self-Employed

If you work for yourself, you're probably already accustomed to the freedom and flexibility that comes with being your own boss. However, when it comes to applying for a mortgage, being self-employed can present some unique challenges. Mortgage lenders have specific requirements and criteria they look for when considering self-employed individuals for a home loan. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of getting a mortgage when you're self-employed, providing you with essential information and tips to help you navigate the application process successfully. What Are Mortgage Lenders Looking For?

Mortgage lenders typically evaluate several key factors before considering you for a mortgage. These factors help them assess your financial stability and ability to repay the loan. As a self-employed individual, it's essential to understand what lenders are looking for to increase your chances of getting approved. Here are the main things mortgage lenders consider:

  1. Income Stability: Lenders want to ensure that your income is stable and consistent. They will review your income history to determine its reliability.

  2. The Location and Nature of Your Self-Employment: The location and nature of your self-employment can impact your mortgage application. Some industries may be considered higher risk, while others may be viewed more favorably by lenders.

  3. The Financial Strength of Your Business: Lenders will assess the financial health of your business, including its profitability, cash flow, and overall stability. A solid financial position can help improve your chances of mortgage approval.

  4. The Ability of Your Business to Generate Sufficient Income in the Future: Lenders want to ensure that your business has the potential to generate enough income to cover your mortgage payments in the future. They may evaluate your industry outlook and the demand for your products or services.

Gathering the Required Documents

To start the home-buying process as a self-employed individual, you'll need to gather specific documents that lenders typically require. These documents provide evidence of your income, employment status, and financial stability. Here are some examples of the documents you may need to provide:

Employment Verification

Employment verification is crucial to prove that you are self-employed. Lenders may request various forms of proof, such as:

  • Client Emails or Letters: Providing emails or letters from current clients can demonstrate the stability and continuity of your self-employment.

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Verification: A letter from a licensed CPA can verify your self-employment status and provide additional credibility to your income claims.

  • Professional Organization Membership: If you are a member of a professional organization related to your industry, a letter from the organization can support your self-employment status.

  • State or Business License: Presenting any state or business licenses you hold further validates your self-employed status.

  • Insurance Documentation: Providing evidence of insurance coverage for your business adds another layer of credibility to your self-employment claims.

  • Doing Business As (DBA) Documentation: If you operate your business under a trade name, known as a "Doing Business As" or DBA, documentation of your DBA registration can be requested.

Income Documentation

Proving steady and reliable income is crucial to getting approved for a mortgage. Although your current income is significant, lenders will also consider your past income to evaluate your loan eligibility. Prepare the following income-related documents:

  • Personal Tax Returns: Lenders will typically request your personal tax returns for the past two years, including any W-2s if you receive income through your corporation.

  • Profit and Loss Statements: Self-employed individuals often need to provide profit and loss statements, which can include a Schedule C, Form 1120S, or K-1, depending on your business structure.

  • Bank Statements: Monthly or quarterly bank statements provide lenders with a snapshot of your financial transactions, allowing them to verify that you have sufficient funds to cover the down payment and closing costs.

It's important to note that if you have been self-employed for less than two years, you can still qualify for a mortgage. However, your business must have been active for a minimum of 12 consecutive months, and your most recent two years of employment, including any non-self-employment income, must be verified. In this scenario, lenders may conduct a more thorough examination of your training, education, and industry expertise to determine the stability and future income potential of your business.

Tips for Self-Employed Individuals Applying for a Mortgage

Applying for a mortgage as a self-employed individual can be a complex process, but with proper preparation, you can improve your chances of success. Here are some valuable tips to help you navigate the mortgage application process:

  1. Maintain Accurate and Detailed Financial Records: As a self-employed individual, it's crucial to keep detailed records of your business income, expenses, and tax filings. Accurate financial records will not only help you during the mortgage application process but will also benefit you in managing your business finances effectively.

  2. Organize Your Personal and Business Bank Accounts: Ensure that your personal and business finances are separate. Maintain dedicated bank accounts for your business transactions to streamline the documentation process and demonstrate financial stability.

  3. Pay Yourself a Consistent Salary: Lenders prefer to see a stable income stream, so paying yourself a consistent salary can enhance your chances of mortgage approval. Avoid irregular withdrawals or transfers between personal and business accounts, as they can complicate the income verification process.

  4. Minimize Personal Debt and Improve Your Credit Score: Lenders consider your personal debt-to-income ratio and credit score when assessing your mortgage application. Minimizing personal debt and improving your credit score can strengthen your overall financial profile and increase the likelihood of mortgage approval.

  5. Save for a Larger Down Payment: A larger down payment can compensate for any perceived risks associated with self-employment. Saving a substantial amount for your down payment demonstrates financial responsibility and reduces the loan-to-value ratio, making you a more attractive borrower.

  6. Consult with a Mortgage Professional: Seeking guidance from a mortgage professional experienced in working with self-employed individuals can be immensely beneficial. They can provide personalized advice, help you navigate the application process, and find mortgage options suitable for your unique circumstances.

Remember, each lender may have different requirements and criteria for self-employed individuals. It's essential to shop around and compare mortgage offers from multiple lenders to find the best terms and conditions for your mortgage.


Getting a mortgage as a self-employed individual may require additional documentation and scrutiny, but it's certainly achievable with the right preparation and understanding of the process. By demonstrating income stability, organizing your financial records, and seeking guidance from professionals, you can increase your chances of securing a mortgage and achieving your homeownership dreams. Remember, patience and perseverance are key, and with the right approach, you'll soon be on your way to owning your dream home.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be construed as financial or legal advice. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions.

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