A number of specialist mortgage providers have suspended lending amid ‘challenging conditions’, raising concerns that niche borrowers including the self-employed could find it harder to get a home loan.
It can be tough to get a mortgage when you’re self-employed, as without regular payslips it’s difficult to prove to lenders that you’re a safe bet.
So, with options narrowing, is it still possible to get a mortgage when you’re self-employed? We talk to David Blake from Which? Mortgage Advisers to find out.
Lenders quitting the self-employed mortgage market
Secure Trust Bank announced earlier this month that it’s consulting on stopping new mortgage lending until market conditions become ‘more favourable’.
It pointed to increased competition in the market, with more and more lenders racing to offer lower rates, which has impacted its profit margins.
Meanwhile Fleet Mortgages, which also offers deals to self-employed borrowers, has pulled its entire range, citing issues around funding.
The firm said in a statement: ‘We have recently completed £400m of mortgage loans with one of the world’s largest asset managers.
‘Due to the launch of our new products in December, this tranche of funding was filled much quicker than we initially anticipated.
‘We have therefore had to pull the current product range while we wait for the next funding line to be made available.’
Can you still get a mortgage when you’re self-employed?
So, with two specialist lenders withdrawing from the market, how easy will it be for self-employed borrowers to get a mortgage?
According to David Blake, a senior mortgage adviser at Which? Mortgage Advisers, you shouldn’t be put off applying for a deal.
He told Which? Money: ‘The statistics show more people are now self-employed than ever before. Naturally, as this is a growing market, mortgage lenders have become much more flexible when it comes to lending to people with this type of income.’
The number of self-employed workers increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017 according to the Office for National Statistics – meaning self-employed people now make up 15% of the working population.
David explains: ‘These days, lenders will often take a common sense approach to lending. If you have a good level of work experience in a certain industry, they’re much more likely to accept self-employed income even if it has only been for a short period of time.’
Which lenders offer self-employed mortgages?
We analysed data from Moneyfacts to check which lenders would consider self-employed applicants and their main criteria for lending.
We found at least 78 lenders – including major players like TSB, Santander and HSBC – that would consider a self-employed applicant as long as they provided between one and three years’ accounts.
David says: ‘There has never been so much flexibility for self-employed people to get a mortgage. It should not be any more difficult than it is for those who are employed.’
- Find out more: mortgages for self-employed buyers
How to boost your self-employed mortgage chances
While the options for self-employed mortgage borrowers are still healthy, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting approved for a loan when you come to apply.
Use an accountant
If you’re self-employed and applying for a mortgage you will normally need at least two years of accounts signed off by a certified or chartered accountant.
Prepare your SA302 forms
The SA302 form shows your annual tax calculations and most lenders will request the last three when you apply for a mortgage.
If you file your self-assessment tax return online you can print this off. If you do a paper tax return you will need to ask HMRC to send you a copy if you don’t already have one.
Save a bigger deposit
As with any mortgage application, the bigger your deposit, the easier it will be to secure a deal at a good rate.
Most lenders will want you to have a deposit of 10-20%, but if you don’t have a robust history of accounts you might need a bigger deposit to convince them you’re a safe bet.