Self-Employed Borrowers Could See Tougher Times Ahead

Recent studies have shown that self employment is on the rise, making up approximately 15% of the workforce in Canada. However, the trend is making it more difficult for the self-employed and other unique prospective mortgage clients to get a mortgage. Many major lenders have quietly eliminated their stated income programs or are tightening their lending review process for self-employed individuals. This move comes with the growing fear around household debt and CMHC’s recent announcement that they are reaching the $600-billion cap for mortgage insurance set by the Federal Government. The stated income programs were originally introduced to deal with the unique situations that self-employed residents have with the large amount of write-off expenses they have. Since self-employed individuals are able to write-off many expenses such as car payments or housing payments, their claimed income does not really reflect their financial situation. Permanent residents with over 3 years of business operation and a good Canadian credit history were eligible for the stated income program. Based on this program, lenders ask borrowers to state their income instead of providing the traditional forms of proof of income, like pay stubs or income tax returns. By not being able to verify the income claimed by a self-employed borrower, the fear of clients over-committing financially increases. With worries that our housing market will “burst” like it did in America has prompted banks to be more stringent with whom they give mortgages out to. Mortgage regulations around stated incomes had already been tightened in 2010. Self-employed borrowers who received a mortgage through the program were expected to put 10% down instead of the minimum 5% for a conventional mortgage. Refinancing a mortgage through the program was limited to 85% loan-to-value ratio (LTV). LTV represents the amount of the mortgage loan compared to the value of the property. Self-employed individuals should expect a more extensive mortgage review process and be prepared to show documented proof of their income. If you’re self-employed and thinking of purchasing a home, come talk to one of our mortgage specialists to help you find the mortgage that’s right for you.

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Among the services I provide to my clients, I consider myself to be a "first-time home buyer mortgage broker".  As a first time home buyer mortgage broker, I know how difficult it is to get into the real estate market, particularly in Vancouver, and it brings me a particular amount of job to help someone get past the challenges if being a first time home buyer.

I have recently completed an e-book and will be launching it soon.  I believe it will be very helpful for not just first-time home buyers, but for anyone who is not as knowledgeable in residential mortgage lending, about how to make your home buyer mortgage broker application appealing to a mortgage lender.

As a sneak preview, here are three tips on improving your mortgage application as a first-time home buyer.

3 Home Buyer Mortgage Broker Tips

  1. Take advantage of the home-buyers plan to fund your down-payment.  This program is not technically ONLY for first-time home buyers, but all first-time home buyers are eligible.  Under the plan, you can borrow up to $25,000 from your RRSP for the purchase of an owner-occupied residence.  If you and your spouse are both applying, then you can withdraw $25,000 each. It is a loan, so it has to be paid back over 15 years (or 1/15th of the loan will be added to income for that year).  However, there is no withholding when you withdraw it, it does not have to all be declared as income on any given year, and you don't even have to use all of it for down-payment!  You can use it for any purpose that you need it for. A good mortgage broker, like myself, can help you with some of the finer details and complex situations that often arise from these situations.
  2. Make sure you pay your bills on time. If you have a high balance on your loan, or you have a lot of debt, those also have a significant negative impact on your credit score, but you can get the bills down and there is no record of your high debt levels.  However, when you miss a bill payment, it stays on your credit bureau for 6-7 YEARS.  This not just negatively impacts your credit score, but lenders look at this when assessing risk, and they have been particularly uncompromising and (unreasonable, paranoid, strict...and other words that I cannot put in print) in the last few years.  While you likely do not have to wait 6-7 years to become bankable if you have had gone through a period of bad credit, the less negative credit on the bureau, the better. At least make the minimum required payments and you will go a long way to making yourself appealing to them.
  3. Having no credit is just as bad as having bad credit. Many people feel that not requiring credit should prove your ability to pay your bills and should be good evidence of credit-worthiness.  This is not how mortgage lenders think.  If you currently do not have any credit, then you do not have any documentation that you are an acceptable credit risk, and no matter how strong your income is, you will have difficulty obtaining a prime mortgage approval.  Make sure you have at least 3 different credit facilities in your name.  (Secondary credit cards in a spouses name are not considered acceptable for establishing your credit).

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