If you are self-employed, work on commission, or otherwise have irregular income, you might think it’s impossible to get a mortgage with full documentation. If you can’t prove regular income, a lender won’t want to give you a loan, right?
Luckily, there are ways around it. While you may not be able to get conventional financing, you may be able to get a home loan with limited documentation.
Just what does this mean? Keep reading to find out more.
Verifying Your Income
The largest piece of the puzzle when applying for a mortgage is typically your income. It makes sense; lenders need to know that you can pay the loan back in full. They don’t want to give a loan to someone that might have trouble making the payments.
But what happens if you have irregular income or you can’t verify your self-employment income with your tax returns because of the write-offs that you take? You can use limited documentation. While this doesn’t mean ‘no documentation,’ it just means that you verify your income in some other way.
The traditional way to verify income is with your pay stubs, W-2s, and/or tax returns. If you know these documents won’t help you look like a ‘stable borrower,’ you may be able to verify your income with your bank statements instead. Lenders are able to accept bank statements for borrowers that regularly deposit their income in one bank account and that can provide proof that it’s their income.
Just why would bank statements be better than tax returns? It’s for one good reason – deductions. As a self-employed borrower or even borrower that works on commission, you have the right to take many deductions on your taxes. Unfortunately, mortgage lenders must use your adjusted gross income according to your tax returns. If you take so many write-offs that you make your AGI zero or negative, it would be impossible to qualify for a loan.
When you can use your bank statements, you can show lenders the amount of money you actually bring in because it’s deposited in your bank account. As long as lenders can tell that it’s your income and not money from any other source, they can use it.
Verifying Compensating Factors
Accepting limited documentation is a big risk for lenders. In order for them to allow it, they need to see other compensating factors or factors that make your loan less risky. These include:
- High credit score – show lenders that you are a good risk by having a high credit score. Lenders want to know that you pay your bills on time and don’t overextend your credit. A high credit score will give them this reassurance.
- Low debt ratio – Lenders want to know that your monthly income isn’t spread thin. They want you to have disposable income in order to cover the cost of living. They also want to know that you aren’t in over your head in debt.
- Assets – If you have money in savings or even in liquid investments, they can count as reserves. This is money the lender counts as what you could use to make your mortgage payment should your income decrease or stop. The more money you have available in reserves, the better your chances of approval become.
Finding a Lender
The hardest part of getting a limited documentation loan is finding an appropriate lender. You won’t get a conventional or even government-backed loan with limited documentation. Instead, you’ll need to use an alternative or subprime lender.
Don’t let the name scare you – they are literally just lenders that write their own programs and keep the loans on their own books. In other words, they don’t have to answer to any other investors. They can make their own rules, which may or may not include the ability to accept limited documentation.
You should shop around with at least three lenders to see what they have to offer. Since this is a portfolio loan program, you may find the terms and costs of the loan very different between lenders.
Getting a home loan with limited documentation is possible, you just have to be diligent in your efforts. Make sure to set up your qualifying factors as well as you can before you apply so that lenders see you as a good risk right from the start.