Jeffrey Harrington's Blog
As the workforce changes and a growing number of companies seek out contractors and freelancers, many Americans find themselves in a gray area when it comes to their income. They may put in full-time hours, but on their taxes they work for themselves.
Mortgage lenders are cautious about who they lend to. They want to make sure you are a low-risk investment who has reliable, predictable income to ensure that they’ll earn money off of your loan.
This can sometimes make it difficult for freelancers, contract workers, or the self-employed. Not only might your taxes be unconventional, but your income could vary depending on the time of the year and the amount of business you receive.
It’s easy to see why many people would be anxious about applying for a mortgage under these circumstances. However, if you’re self-employed, there’s no need to worry. You can still get approved for a mortgage at a fair interest rate--you just need to do a bit of work to provide the right documents to your lender.
In this article, we’ll show you what documents and proof of income you’ll likely need and how to present it to a lender to make the process run as smoothly as possible to get you approved for your mortgage. Here’s what you need to do.
Organize your records
Before applying for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to take a look at your record-keeping process. As a self-employed worker, you’re probably already used to tracking your own income. However, this will help the lender analyze your income easier and move the process along more quickly.
Having a master spreadsheet of your dated invoices, paid amounts, and the names of your clients is a good place to start. You’ll also want detailed, easy to read information for your previous employers, landlords, references, and any other information you think will be pertinent.
Next, gather your tax documents for the last three to five years. As a self-employed worker, you likely file a Schedule C (Form 1040) and a Schedule SE. Make sure you have copies of these forms.
Dealing with deductions
Many self-employed workers write off business expenses in their tax returns. Travel expenses, internet, and other costs associated with doing business are all ways to save by reducing your taxable income. Doing so can save you money, but it can also reduce your net income which is what lenders will see when you provide them with your information.
If you’re hoping to get approved for a bigger loan, one solution is to plan your taxes in the year prior to applying for a mortgage. Make fewer deductions than you normally would to increase your net income.
Be ready to clarify
When a mortgage lender is reviewing your information, make sure you are open and available to provide any information that can be helpful to them in considering your application. Being prompt and accurate with your responses will signal to your lender that you are willing to work with them.
Are you planning on buying a home by a certain date? It’s unfortunate that life can’t go as we plan it all the time! With a bit of planning finding the right home at the right time is possible. Many times, families are looking to buy a home before the end of the summer. This allows them to get settled in and get the kids started in a new school before the start of the year in September. Just because there are more popular times throughout the year to move doesn’t mean that the inventory of homes changes much as to what’s on the market. Whatever the reason for the short supply of homes, you’ll need to be informed and creative in order to land a house in a high demand market when it’s crunch time. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you on your search.
Research Your Location Ahead Of Time
Every housing market has a bit of a down time. You want to pinpoint that period. Does your location have a time of year where people flee the area for vacations? The holiday season can also be a great time to look. There may still be low supply, but there also will be less competition. Do a bit of research in order to find pricing trends. When the prices dip, you’ll know that’s a time where competition for homes is lower.
Always Have Your Finances In Order
When you’re buying a home, no matter what time of year it is, you need to have your lender on call. Make sure that you have been preapproved and that your downpayment money is at your disposal. Sellers like serious buyers who are ready to pass paperwork.
Know What You’re Willing To Compromise On
When you’re buying a home on a timeline, you may not have the luxury of searching around endlessly to meet your wishlist. You should have a few musts, but there may be many things that you’ll need to work with or compromise on in finding the right property. You may be able to find a home in the right neighborhood, but it might not have the granite countertops that you’re looking for. When time is of the essence, your home search priorities need to be set straight.
Don’t Look For Bargains
When you’re in a time crunch to land a home, you don’t want to fool around with price. In order to land a home that you love, you might have to offer a bit more than the asking price. There’s no space for a bidding war, a low offer, or an extended search when you need to buy a home fast.
When you buy a home, you may wonder what the benefits of having your own realtor to represent you are. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you probably will have a lot of questions. If you’re a second-time homebuyer you may still have a lot of questions! Buying a home can be a long, tedious process. It’s very helpful to know that you have a knowledgable realtor by your side to represent you and help you through the home buying process. If you’re looking to buy a home in a tough market, hiring your own realtor to represent you as a buyer is especially important.
First, you should consider interviewing some prospective buyers agents in your area. Maybe you can get recommendations from friends and family as well. Learn what you can expect from a top realtor who will represent you as a buyer.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Your agent should be completely honest with you. While they can’t tell you what you personally want in a home, they should give you every last disclosure. No agent should put a home value or their own commission above their clients. This means that there’s strict documentation that realtors must follow including a code of ethics and standards for practice. A realtor must uphold these promises.
Judging honesty in a realtor can be difficult. An honest real estate agent will help you through the home search process, for example. This is a good place to start. If the realtor points out some of the potential issues that you may have as a buyer in a home, you can see that honesty is one of their main policies.
A realtor should be in frequent communication with you. Even if your home search isn’t active, they will check in, and see where you’re at in the process and if your needs have changed.
Your realtor should alert you if offers have been made on properties that you’re interested in as well. Your buyer’s agent should reply to texts, e-mails, or calls within a short time frame of receiving them. Having a realtor that’s on top of things for you is important when it comes to buying a home since, without their help and information, the perfect home could slip through the cracks for you.
Knowledge Of Rules, Regulations, And Best Practices
Your buyer’s agent should have extensive knowledge of the real estate rules and regulations that are within your state. Each state has different practices when it comes to buying a home. Hiring a buyer’s agent is especially helpful if you are unfamiliar with a state or city. Your agent will be well-informed on all of your responsibilities as a buyer, as well as how and when you should complete these tasks and signings throughout the entire home buying process.
Ready to launch a search for your dream home? Ultimately, you'll want to do everything possible to streamline your home search to boost your chances of getting the best possible results.
There are many best practices for conducting a successful home search, and these include:
1. Define Your Homebuying Criteria
The definition of the "perfect" home varies from property buyer to property buyer. This means that your definition of the perfect home is unlikely to match that of a friend or family member.
Think about what separates an ordinary home from a can't-miss residence. Then, you'll be able to narrow your home search and map out a successful homebuying journey.
As you consider the perfect home, make a list of homebuying "must-haves." For example, if you want a garage where you and your wife can park your cars, a two-car garage is a homebuying must-have. Or, if you want a home that's close to high-quality schools that your kids can attend, buying a house in a great school district is a must.
2. Get Home Financing
Although your ultimate goal is to acquire a top-notch residence, you'll likely need financing to help you transform your homebuying dream into a reality. Fortunately, many banks and credit unions are available to teach you about a wide range of mortgage options.
Meet with several banks and credit unions – you'll be glad you did. These lenders can educate you about the different types of home loans and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.
After you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you're good to kick off your home search. In fact, with a mortgage in hand, you can tailor your search to homes that fall within a specific price range.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
Regardless of your homebuying goals, it pays to work with a real estate agent. That way, you can receive expert assistance as you search for houses in various cities and towns.
A real estate agent is happy to teach you the ins and outs of purchasing a house. By doing so, this housing market professional can help you become a real estate expert in no time at all.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses that become available and help you submit home offers. This housing market professional is committed to your homebuying success and will do whatever it takes to assist you along the homebuying journey.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is available to respond to any homebuying questions that you may have. No homebuying question is ever too big or too small for a real estate agent, and as a result, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to make an informed homebuying decision.
Launch a successful home search today – use the aforementioned best practices, and you can increase the likelihood of discovering your dream home.
Purchasing a home should be fun, memorable process. However, many homebuyers struggle with fears as they embark on the process of acquiring their dream homes.
Some of the most common homebuying fears include:
1. I will pay too much for a house.
Overspending on a house is a common fear among homebuyers nationwide.
If you pay too much for a house, you may struggle to afford the monthly payments for the duration of your mortgage. Perhaps even worse, your house may lose value over time. And if you eventually decide to sell your home, you may be forced to accept less than what you initially paid for it.
Ultimately, an informed homebuyer will understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's one. He or she will be able to determine whether a home is affordably priced and proceed accordingly.
An informed homebuyer also will know the importance of getting pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this homebuyer will understand exactly how much that he or she can spend on a house.
2. I'll wait too long to submit an offer on a residence.
If a homebuyer is uncertain about buying a particular house and waits too long to submit an offer, he or she risks missing out on this residence altogether.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to avoid this problem.
A homebuyer who knows what he or she wants to find in a dream home can narrow a home search. Then, if the homebuyer discovers a home that matches or exceeds his or her expectations, this individual can submit an offer right away.
Don't forget to submit a competitive offer, i.e. one that accounts for the needs of both a homebuyer and home seller, as well. A competitive offer will stand out from other proposals and increase a property buyer's chances of securing his or her dream residence.
3. I'll buy a home that will fail to maintain its long-term value.
What you pay for a home today is unlikely to remain the same over the course of several weeks, months or years. But a homebuyer who employs an expert home inspector can learn about a house's strengths and weaknesses and ensure a property is a viable long-term investment.
A home inspector will conduct an assessment of a house after a property seller accepts a buyer's proposal. At this point, an inspector will examine a house's interior and exterior and identify any potential issues. Lastly, a home inspector will issue a report with his or her findings, and a homebuyer will have a final opportunity to modify or rescind an offer on a house.
For homebuyers, it is important to work with a trusted home inspector – you'll be glad you did. This home inspector will go above and beyond the call of duty to evaluate a house before you finalize a home purchase.
Working with an experienced real estate agent may benefit a homebuyer too. With a top-notch real estate agent at your side, you can get the support you need to acquire a first-rate home that will maintain its value both now and in the future.