The gig economy has exploded over the past decade. Today, around 36% of the US workforce is freelancing and many more or self-employed small business owners.
While being your own boss does afford you great freedom to set your hours and often work where you want, you may face extra scrutiny when trying to get financing to buy a home.
Because your income comes from many sources and you may do your own bookkeeping, it's more challenging to prove your income. But fear not. Freelancers can get financing. You just need to be prepared.
Note that every lending institution may be a little different. But here's your quick guide for home financing for freelancers and other self-employed professionals.
1. You may need to work at freelance a little longer
If you just left a nine to five and started freelancing six months ago, you do not yet have the track record of consistent income that a loan officer will be able to see. The loan officer needs to know that you have the money coming in to pay this loan.
In most cases, loan officers like to see applicants who've been successfully freelancing for at least two years.
2. Clean up your bookkeeping
Are you the kind of person who pulls out a box of receipts on April 14th and then scrambles for the next 18 hours trying to account for last year? You may struggle with a loan officer. They need to see well-organized records of incoming and outgoing, just like any business.
You don't have to take an accounting course. But anyone should be able to follow behind your numbers on a spreadsheet to see exactly how you reached the figures that went on your tax return.
3. Get a CPA signature
You may need to get the signature of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on your books for at least the last six months. But please don't do this before they ask for it because it will cost money. The more disorganized your financial records, the more it may cost.
If you'd be embarrassed to show your bookkeeping to a CPA, please see the tip immediately above. You can do this.
4. Make your case
If your income fluctuates wildly or has dropped in the most recent year, that may be a red flag for a loan officer. Even if they don't ask about it, make sure they know why that dip occurred.
Perhaps you were taking care of an aging parent or a sick child. Some of your income may have been delayed for some reason. Be prepare to explain the ebb and flow of your income.
Don't appear to be a victim of circumstance. But do communicate irregularities that don't reflect the success you're experiencing as a freelancer.
5. Have a strong savings
Freelancers' income varies from month to month, but your mortgage payment does not. Show that you're stable and have a backup plan. These savings should be in addition to a down payment.
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For those who want to acquire a house, it helps to get your finances in order. That way, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying journey without having to worry about how you'll afford your dream house.
There are many quick, easy ways to straighten out your finances before you embark on the homebuying journey, such as:
1. Assess Your Credit Score
Your credit score ultimately can play a major role in your ability to secure a great mortgage. If you understand your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve it prior to conducting a home search.
It is important to remember that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a free copy of your credit report today, and you can take the first step to evaluate your credit score.
If you find that your credit score is low, there is no need to worry. You can always pay off outstanding debt to improve your credit score over time.
Also, if you identify any errors on your credit report, you'll want to address these mistakes immediately. In this scenario, you should contact the agency that provided the report to ensure any necessary corrections can be made.
2. Look Closely at Your Monthly Expenses
When it comes to buying a house, it generally helps to have sufficient funds for a down payment. The down payment on a house may fall between 5 and 20 percent of a home's sale price, so you'll want to have enough money available to cover this total for your dream residence.
If you evaluate your monthly expenses, you may be able to find ways to save money for a down payment on a house.
For example, it may be beneficial to cut out cable TV for the time being and use the money that you save toward a home down payment. Or, if your dine out frequently, cooking at home may prove to be a substantial money-saver that could help you speed up the process of saving for a down payment.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
With pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand. Then, you'll be better equipped than ever before to narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about different mortgage options and help you assess all of the options at your disposal.
Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask banks and credit unions about how different types of mortgages work. This will enable you to gain the insights that you need to make an informed decision about a mortgage based on your financial situation.
If you need extra help as you prepare to pursue a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. In fact, a real estate agent can help you find a high-quality house at a budget-friendly price in no time at all.
Shopping for a new home should be an exciting experience, but if you are unsure of where you stand with your credit, it can be a little nerve-wracking. Having good credit will not only help you to secure more favorable interest rates for your mortgage, but it can also help you to avoid less favorable loan structures, higher down payments, and additional costs such as PMI. The best way to prepare yourself for your financing is to whip your credit into shape before your hunt begins. Check out three ways to help prep your credit.
Check for Any Collections
Collections are delinquent accounts that can seriously affect your credit score. Review your credit report and address any collections that are listed. If there are ones on there in error, file a dispute with the credit bureaus. If you owe the debt and can pay it, contact the collection company and ask if you can satisfy the debt by paying it and have it removed from the report. Finally, if you can not afford to pay the whole debt, discuss with the creditor possible settlement options.
Don't Request Any New Credit
When you open a new credit card or credit account, it can affect your credit in multiple ways. First, it will count as a hard inquiry, which can slightly lower your score, and secondly, it may change the average of your credit history. Mortgage companies don't like to see a lot of credit being acquired right before a mortgage is being established, so if it can wait, let it wait until the mortgage is secured.
Pay Down Your Credit Card Balances
If you have the means to reduce the balance of your credit cards, now is the ideal time. Your credit score is affected by your credit card balances in two primary ways. The first being the amount of debt that is listed on all of your credit cards. The second is the ratio of the amount owed on your card in relation to the credit limit on the card. A good ratio is less than 30%, so to keep your credit score high, you will want to be below this percentage. Paying a large chunk of your debt can increase your score by several points, and also improve your debt to income ratio. Just be sure to do this at least thirty days out so that the new balance is reflected when your score is pulled.
Don't let poor credit lower your chances of buying the home that you always wanted. Follow the tips above to pump up your credit before applying for your next mortgage. Even a few points can mean significant savings.
If you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, there’s one three-digit number that could be oh so important to you. That number is your credit score. Read on to find out how a credit score can affect you and the steps you can take to be sure that your credit is in good standing when you head to apply for a mortgage.
What Is A Credit Score?
Your credit score is checked by lenders of all kinds. Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, there’s a good chance that your credit score is being pulled to see if you qualify for the loan. Your credit score is calculated based on the information on your credit report. This information includes:
Length of credit history
New credit accounts opened
The areas with the most impact on your score is your payment history and your debt-to-credit ratio. This means that on-time payments are super important. You also don’t want to get anywhere close to maxing out your credit cards or loan amounts to keep your score up.
What’s A Good Score?
If you’re aiming for the perfect credit score, it’s 850. Most consumers won’t reach that state of perfection. That’s, OK because you don’t have to be perfect to buy a house. If your score is 740 and above, know that you’re in great shape to get a mortgage. Even if your score is below 740 but around 700 or above, you’ll be able to get a good interest rate on your mortgage. Most lenders typically look for a score of 620 and above. Keep in mind that the higher your credit score the better your interest rate will be.
What If You Lack Credit History?
Most people should get a credit card around age 20 in order to begin building credit. You can still qualify for a mortgage without a credit history, but it will be considerably harder. Lenders may look at things like your rent payments or car payments. Lenders want to know that you’re a responsible person to lend to.
What If Your Score Needs Help?
It doesn’t mean you’re a hopeless case if you lack good credit. Everything from errors on your credit report to missed payments can be fixed. The most important thing that you can do if you’re buying a home in the near future is to be mindful of your credit. Keep an eye on your credit report and continue to make timely payments. With a bit of focus, you’ll be well on your way to securing a mortgage for the home of your dreams.
Do you dream of buying a home? If your answer is yes, then VA home loan can make it a reality. A VA home loan differs from the traditional mortgage home loan. It is essential to know if you are eligible to apply for a VA home loan and how it can help you purchase your own home.
What is VA Home Loan?
A VA home loan is a loan for which veterans, active-duty service members, and some surviving spouses are eligible. Generally, VA loans feature better terms than a traditional mortgage, and it is easy to qualify. For many military borrowers, the flexibility and no-down payment nature of VA Home loan have made it the most reliable lending plan in the market. You may find it interesting that from 1944 until today, VA home loans have made over 20 million service members homeowners.
VA Home Loan- Eligibility requirements
To be eligible for a VA Home Loan, a person must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- You must have served 90 straight days of active service at the time of war.
- You must have served 181 days of active service.
- You have accumulated six or more years of service in the Reserves or National Guards.
- Your spouse, who is a service member, becomes disabled or dies during service.
How Does VA Home Loan Work?
The first step to homeownership through VA home loan is to get pre-qualified. You will need to meet up with a VA lender to help you get an estimate of the price of the home you can afford based on your credit, income, and other financial factors.
After getting pre-qualified, the next thing to do is to pre-approve your loan. This will give you the power to take action when you see a home you love. When the preapproval process is complete, you will need to hire a knowledgeable VA agent to help you place an offer and negotiate with the seller.
If you and the seller have agreed concerning the price for the house, your lender will order a VA appraisal of the home. Also, underwriters will analyze your income, finance, and related documents. Next, get ready to sign several kinds of legal documents at your loan closing. After this, you will get the keys to your new home.
Here are some of the most important things to know about a VA home loan;
- It is reusable as long as you pay off the loan every time.
- You can only use it for specific homes.
- You can use it for a primary residence.
- It does not require mortgage insurance.
- It comes with a VA funding fee.
Even if you qualify for a VA home loan, take your time to think if owning a home is right for you. Consider the maintenance, property taxes, and Home upkeep. Renting may seem cheap. Before you go for a VA home loan, consult a home loan specialist.