Can I get a mortgage as a freelancer?

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Can I get a mortgage as a freelancer?

Yes, you can! But you’ll have to work a bit harder on your application compared to those in full-time employment.

There’s over two million freelancers working in the UK right now, and it’s been increasing since the pandemic. Despite the increase, it’s still more difficult for freelancers to get a mortgage because you have to PROVE your income. Showing the mortgage lender three months of payslips – like a regular employee has to do – just won’t cut it. There’s a few more extra steps you’ll need to take.

It’s important to know that freelancers are often considered riskier by the mainstream lenders (high-street banks). Usually, they won’t take the time to understand how you make your money. They may even tell you it can’t be done, when it can. That’s because most lenders prefer ‘vanilla people’; those in regular jobs, with regular incomes that are paid...regularly. Fortunately we know lots of lenders who don’t feel this way.

There’s lots of lenders who’ll give you a mortgage. You just need to meet the right broker. And that’s where we come in. Make an enquiry to get matched with a specialist mortgage broker who has experience getting mortgages for freelancers. 

Am I classified as a freelancer?

A freelancer is someone who’s self-employed and works on a short-term basis for different clients and different projects. Often, people become freelancers because they like the flexibility to choose what they do and how many hours they work. The types of people that freelance often include designers, writers and journalists. 

Freelancers are different from contractors because they’ll work for more than one client at the same time. But like contractors, being self-employed, rather than employed, means they won’t receive any employee benefits. Good thing they can charge the business far higher fees to make up for it. Cha-Ching! 🤑

Whether you’re a freelancer, a contractor or an employee looking to get on the property ladder we can help. Make an enquiry to speak to one of our specialist brokers to discuss your unique situation.

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

Freelancers are able to access the same mortgage products as people that are employed, but they’ll be treated differently and will need to provide different documents.

When making a mortgage application as a freelancer, lenders will look at the same criteria as an employee. This includes your income, age and credit score. Lenders may also ask some extra questions to make sure you can afford the monthly repayments:

  • What type of freelancer are you?

  • How long have you been freelancing for?

  • How many clients do you have?

  • Have you had any previous contracts renewed, or not?

  • How much experience do you have and how much time have you served in your field?

  • How long are your current contracts?

 Read more in our Guide: What Mortgage Lenders Look For In Mortgage Applicants.

How will my income be assessed as a freelancer?

As a freelancer your income will be assessed slightly differently from an employee. You’ll need to share your work and credit history with the lenders, as well as proving how much you earn. That’s because freelancers' work can vary a lot month to month / year to year unlike full-time employed people with fixed salaries. Proving your freelance income can take a little more effort, but it’s definitely worth it!

When making an application you’ll usually be asked to share your detailed business accounts or tax returns. These include all of your income and outgoings during the time that you’ve been trading. The more years accounts you have the better (ideally three years or more), but some specialist lenders will only require 12 months. See our self-employment guide for more information including what to do if you’ve been trading for 12 months or less.

It’s important to know that lenders will assess your application according to your latest income which you’ll need to show is guaranteed and stable. Lenders need to have confidence you’ll be able to afford your mortgage repayments and will always try to avoid offering a mortgage to a freelancer if there's a risk of having a period with no money coming in. Having proof of contracts for future work will boost your chances of being approved!

Along with your accounts, you’ll usually be asked for at least three months of bank statements and your credit report too. This is because lenders want to see how you spend your money and whether you repay loans on time. If you’re a sole trader, you’ll need to get a SA302 tax return from the HMRC and if you’re a limited company a qualified accountant will need to sign off your accounts.

Exactly what you’ll need will depend on how your freelancing work is structured and the lender’s own criteria. But there's usually quite a few things you’ll need to prepare, so it’s best to get these in order as soon as you can.

Make an enquiry to speak to a specialist broker who’ll discuss your options and help you put together a great application with the right lender.

How much can I borrow as a freelancer?

Your income can vary as a freelancer, which makes working out how much you can borrow a little trickier. Most lenders will use an average of the last three years of your net income to work out your affordability. This will also be the case if you’re a sole trader. However if you’re a director of a limited company, lenders may also consider your salary, dividends and sometimes your retained profits too. 

If most of your freelancing work is contract-based then lenders will probably assess the overall value of your contracts. Other lenders may base your affordability on your day-rate.

Lenders will normally carry out an affordability check to work out how much they can lend you. As a freelancer, this is usually three times what your yearly earnings are. But sometimes mortgage lenders will let you borrow up to five or even six times your earnings. 

Lenders will also look at other affordability criteria such as how much deposit you have, any existing financial commitments (including debt repayments and fixed outgoings) and your credit history. Don’t worry - they look at this criteria with employed applicants too.

To find a freelancer-friendly lender and get advice on how much you’ll be able to borrow, make an enquiry and get matched to one of our specialist brokers. 

What deposit will I need as a freelancer?

How much deposit you’ll need to put down will depend on your unique situation, and varies between mortgage lenders. But the bigger your deposit is, the more of the property you’ll own right away, and the smaller your mortgage will need to be. 

Mortgage lenders have their own criteria to work out how much money they can lend to you. It’s not usually that different for a freelancer than those that are employed full-time. But most lenders will ask for at least 10% deposit for a typical residential mortgage. 

The amount you can borrow will depend on your loan to value as well as your earnings track record and how long you’re happy to commit to a fixed-interest rate for. Often you can borrow more if you commit to a longer fixed interest rate because it gives the lender confidence you can repay a set monthly amount ongoing. 

Read more in our Guide: Mortgage Deposits and Income Multiples Explained.

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

It can be more difficult  to get a Buy to Let mortgage as a freelancer, but it’s not impossible. 

Many lenders require a minimum amount of income which is anywhere from £15,000 to over £25,000. These numbers can be harder to prove for freelancers on variable incomes. 

Fortunately, there are some specialist lenders who are happy to consider freelancers no matter how much you earn. But you’d need to own your main home and the rental income from the Buy to Let property would need to cover at least the cost of the mortgage repayments. 

If you don’t already own a property then lenders may be concerned you’ll be trying to get a Buy to Let as a property to live in so you’re unlikely to be approved.

For more information on Buy to Let mortgages take a look at our Guide.

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

If you’re a freelancer and have bad credit it can be even harder to get a mortgage. This is because you’ll be limited to a fewer number of lenders who’ll consider your case. But it all depends on your individual circumstances.

We always advise trying to improve your credit score to give yourself the best possible chance. However there are specialist lenders who will accept freelancers with bad credit, but it depends on your loan-to-value, and the date and reason for the bad credit.

To discuss your options make an enquiry to get matched with a specialist mortgage broker.

Can I get a joint mortgage as a freelancer?

Being a freelancer shouldn’t stop you from getting a joint mortgage, but knowing what to look out for can help speed up the process.

If you’re freelancing and looking for a joint mortgage, lenders are more likely to approve your application if you’re looking to buy with someone who’s in full-time employment. Ups and downs in your income level will be less important if you’re buying with someone else, but you’ll still need to show your earnings are stable. If you can’t do this, you may be better off getting a guarantor mortgage

Guarantor mortgages involve asking a family member to provide a guarantee on your mortgage made against their own home. Your chances of being accepted for a mortgage will improve and you may be able to borrow more than you would on your own. You may even qualify for lower interest rates 🥳. Read more about guarantor mortgages in our Guide: Guarantor Mortgages Explained.

Whether you’re looking for a guarantor mortgage, a joint mortgage or going it alone, we can help. Make an enquiry to speak to one of our specialist brokers to discuss your options.

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

Getting a mortgage as a freelancer can be more challenging than if you were employed. But it’s still possible. 

Here’s some tips to increase your chances of being accepted: 

Be prepared! 

Do your homework and make sure you understand how your income will be calculated. This will help you work out the amount you can borrow (use our calculator) and speed up the application process.

Mind the gap 

One of the perks of freelancing is working when you want, but this can cause issues when applying for a mortgage. Lenders want to see stability in your earnings, so try to avoid big gaps in your income for at least 12 months before applying for a mortgage. 

Ay-up accountants

If you’re the director of a limited company you’ll need a certified accountant to prepare your accounts. It’s important to chat with your accountant about your plans to get a mortgage as some accountants may legally minimise your income to reduce the amount of tax you pay. This could work against you when applying for a mortgage.

Say YES to long-term and repeat business 

An unstable income is the biggest factor counting against freelancers getting a mortgage, so if you can show you’ve had repeat business or have long-term contracts your chances of success will greatly improve. Aim to give as much evidence as possible that your business is going strong by providing more documents than the lender specifically requests.  

Don’t ignore your credit score 

There are some simple ways to keep your credit file looking healthy. From correcting errors to registering to vote, it all counts towards building your score back up. Make sure you're keeping on top of your bills and pay them on time. Read more tips in our Guide: How to Improve Your Credit Score Before Applying For a Mortgage

Big up your deposit 

Putting down a bigger deposit means you’ll be making a bigger commitment and need to borrow less. The bigger your deposit, the better, as it decreases the lender's risk of loaning to you. You could also purchase a cheaper property, so that you’re buying at a lower loan to value

Speak to a specialist

When applying for a mortgage as a freelancer it's best to speak to an advisor who can assess your unique situation and explain your options. A specialist mortgage broker knows the market, which lenders are best for you, and how to give your application the best chance of being accepted. Make an enquiry to get matched to your perfect broker

WE MAKE MORTGAGES POSSIBLE

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