Understanding mortgage lending to the Self Employed
There is a big difference in terms of how mortgage lenders assess the income of self employed applicants to those who are employed and receiving income on a PAYE basis, this short guide explains how income is assessed and some of the pitfalls.
You will be classed as Self Employed if you are a sole trader, in a partnership or if you own more than a set percentage of an Ltd company (typically 25%). PAYE employees who also own a significant share of a different company may be classed as having income from employment and self employment.
If you are classified as self employed the overwhelming majority of mortgage lenders will require a minimum of two years full accounts before you can be considered for a mortgage, there are certain exceptions for example where an applicant buys a share of an Ltd company with existing trading history. This means for many people that if you are considering entering into any of these types of employment then securing a new mortgage deal prior to making the switch to self employment could be a good idea.
When classed as self employed the lender will base their affordability assessment on your net pre tax profit, not your turnover. This is essentially your money taken in minus all allowable deductions and so will therefore usually be the profit figure from your tax returns.
If you are the owner or major shareholder of an Ltd Company you may well pay yourself PAYE income and dividends which is tax efficient and the two added together would be considered your profit. It is important to remember that leaving profit within the business as capital rather than drawing down these funds as dividend income will limit the maximum borrowing potential available to you. It may be worthwhile taking a “tax hit” in the accounting year prior to arranging a mortgage if the previous year’s drawings are low as many lenders will refuse to look deeper into accounts and base assessment on actual profits rather than just your personal PAYE and dividend takings.
Some lenders will base their lending figures on the last years accounts only however if your accounts figures are decreasing or have gone up and down most will take an average over two to three years.
Proof of income for the self employed will normally be either your SA302 or self assessment tax computation, or a copy of your accounts often for the last two to three years. Some lenders will request accounts certificates in these are not available. The sole traders or those submitting their own tax returns it usually pays to keep your SA302’s handy for coming mortgage applications although you can request reprints from HMRC.