Mortgage Strategies for Self-Employed Home Buyers

Morgages for self-employed applicants

Being your own boss is a great feeling with many benefits, but those benefits do not include a fast track to a great mortgage. Gone are the days of the easy mortgages, the no-income-verification loans, and The Big Short. In fact, qualifying for a mortgage may rank as one of the biggest challenges you face as someone who is self-employed.

And if that weren’t stressful enough, with recent signals from the Fed that mortgage rates may be rising in 2018, you probably want to act quickly to pre-qualify if you’re considering a move.

As a self-employed business owner who just bought a new home for our growing family, I can testify that the mortgage process is not for the faint-hearted. Every time I completed a lender’s checklist they come back to me for more information. This was not my first mortgage but the time and energy it took this time around was beyond what I expected – and I’m a credit-worthy borrower and financial pro with a background in the mortgage world.

So what’s the best way to prepare? To understand the issues, think like a bank. In deciding to lend you hundreds of thousands of dollars, the bank wants to know, first and foremost, that you will be able to pay them back – steadily, regularly, over time.

Here are 3 of the biggest hurdles you may have to overcome:

SHOW YOU MEET THE INCOME REQUIREMENTS

The first thing a potential lender asks to see is your W-2 form, the document that shows salaried workers’ annual wages and withheld taxes. Business owners and independent contractors are unlikely to have W2s, and instead need to present their full tax returns, including profit & loss and deductions & depreciation, as well as their own income.

Not only are lenders not likely to be expert at understanding your business and your cash flow, but the salary you show on paper may be deceptively low. That’s because most business owners invest a sizable chunk “back into the business” when they’re getting started as well as taking deductions for travel, leased vehicles, and purchases of computers, office supplies, and even their phone.

Getting ready: If you’re thinking about buying a house, consult a financial planner, your accountant, or a trusted mortgage professional (we’ve suggested a few below) about how much to accurately deduct – or not – this year to show sufficient income and an acceptable debt-to-income ratio.

HAVE ALL THE PAPERWORK

Having paperwork that tells the full story can make all the difference, so now is the perfect time to prepare a file with the documents you’ve already collected for the IRS. Remember, though, that this year’s tax returns and records may not be enough to show your business has been steadily growing. Be prepared with records from previous years, and bonus points for data about how your sector has been doing as well.

Getting ready: Keeping good records is key so if you haven’t already started, get started now, and see what you can put together for previous years.

MAKE SENSE OF COMPLEXITY

Every company and every consultant is unique and it may be hard to reconcile your business’ specific challenges and trajectory with the solid predictability a mortgage lender is looking for. You may want to bring a trusted accountant or financial or business advisor to the meeting with the lender – someone who knows your business well and can explain its structure, operations, and cash flow in context. If your advisor can’t be there, ask them to write a brief document explaining your data. Consider also requesting profit-and-loss statements prepared without personal expenses to show the difference between reported income and actual income.

Getting ready: be prepared to explain what your numbers mean in context and turn to a trusted advisor, if possible, who can translate your numbers for the lender and help them understand you’re a good candidate.

AVOID CREDIT SCORE SURPRISES

You wouldn’t be the first, or last, person to find discrepancies in your credit score. Correct any discrepancies and make sure it’s correctly updated before applying for a mortgage. And – obviously – pay off any outstanding debt.

Getting ready: get credit reports from the major agencies and make sure that they are accurate.

 

If you’re in the market for a new home, let us help you and guide you through the process. With the fed signaling a rate hike, we are happy to schedule a call with you for a free analysis of how that may affect your purchasing power.

We are well versed in the latest options from different lenders that may be most appropriate for your situation and have online tools to help you look at your overall financial situation to determine how much of a mortgage it makes sense for you to take on. We also have resources and experts we can refer you to, or, if you already have a mortgage professional, we will work with them to determine how much your can afford.

And we have experience: I’m pleased to report that, after what seemed like a never ending process, I succeeded in getting a mortgage with very favorable terms and – most importantly – we love our new home.

Don’t be daunted by the challenges involved with getting a mortgage when you’re working for yourself. With the right preparation and the right help, you too can make your dream home a reality!

Here are three resources trusted referral partners in the Washington area:

(As a fee-only financial planner, we have no financial vested interest in referrals. We just want to make sure you have the best advice possible!)

Jody H. Eichenblatt, Senior Mortgage Consultant at Prosperity Home Mortgage

Michael Parsons, Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS) at Apex Home Loans

James Schneider, Loan Officer at Eagle Creek Mortgage

Todd Sheinin, Chief Operating Officer at Homespire Mortgage

CJ Kemp, Loan Officer SunTrust Mortgage, Inc

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions.  They are for information purposes only. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Real Life Financial Planning

Hand of the businessman with the house

This past weekend my family has made the move into a new home, which needless to say, has been a chaotic process.  It really got me thinking, though, about real estate/home ownership and how it fits into client portfolios and their financial plans.

The mantra of the middle class is buy a home.  But is it always the best decision for your money?

Buying residential real estate certainly poses some undeniable advantages.  For many people, there is a certain pride in homeownership.  After all, it is the epitome of the American Dream.  Additionally, the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is tax-deductible, and not unimportantly, homes tend to increase in value, build equity and provide a nest egg for the future.

But what is very often overlooked by the average American is the opportunity cost of their money and how their mortgages play a role in that.  A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the important decision individuals face when they have excess cash.  It recommends taking a close look at what interest rates you pay on a mortgage and how those compare to the savings amount on your bank account as well as the rate of return on investments in equity and bonds.

When homeowners do this, they often are struck with a revelation: they are likely not getting as high of a return on their investment as they would have if they were invested more heavily in equity.  Ultimately, the opportunity cost of having your money tied up in your mortgage could actually hurt your long-term wealth.  Even worse, the tax breaks you are receiving do not cover the amount of loss incurred from your interest rate!  A recent Bloomberg article went so far to say that this simple understanding is one of the distinctions that separates the world’s wealthiest individuals from the middle class and one of the major contributing factors to income inequality.  Basically, it argues that a major difference between the middle class and the top 1% is that the middle class have too much of their portfolios tied in up residential real estate that is not providing adequate returns.

There is a theory out there that wealthy individuals are simply more skilled investors.  A recent study explains that this is not true. (In fact, they might be worse!)  Wealthy people just tend to own most of the equity in the economy, meaning that when business does well, they reap disproportionately large benefits.  Generally speaking, rich individuals own the upside of the economy in the form of stock, while the middle class’s gains are limited by the slow growth of housing wealth.  It is no surprise that the collapse of the housing bubble has exacerbated wealth inequality because stocks recovered more strongly than real estate did.  Maybe the difference between you and the 1% is just your perception of the options available to you.

Surely, shelter is one of the basic necessities of life.  Everyone has to live somewhere – but taking the time to consider all of your options before making any large financial decisions is something that every person should do.  At the very least, you should consider the opportunity costs of your cash and look into advantages of a less expensive housing option, renting, or investing more in equity to ensure that you are getting the most out of your money in the long run.

At Sherman Wealth Management, we believe that real life decisions call for real life financial planning.

These are the kinds of decisions we want to help you make, so don’t hesitate to contact us today to get started.

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

 

Do Interest Rates Have You Worried About Buying a First Home?

Guide to Buying Your First Home

Did the recent interest rate hike news cause any delay to your plans to house hunt? Are you wondering – given the rate increase and current market turmoil – if this is really the right time to purchase a first home, or if renting makes more sense for you right now?

Actually, the exact opposite happened. Rates actually fell from 2.3% to 1.55% on the US 10-year treasuries (a common indicator of how mortgage rates are priced), their lowest point since September 2012. If you already own a home with an ARM or 30-year fixed mortgage, this is also a good time to refinance or reduce debt at these low rates.

Remember a house or condo is both a home and an asset that can appreciate over time. No matter what they’re saying on the news, what’s important is what makes sense for your finances, based on your goals and what’s happening in your local housing market.

Here are a few things to consider:

Evaluate your current circumstances:

  • What would your mortgage payment be in relation to current rent? A good rent-versus-buy calculator can be found at Realtor.com
  • Do you plan to be in the area for 5 years or more? The housing market will fluctuate. If you need to sell quickly, you may have to sell for less than desired, whereas a booming market can provide quick sales for a profit.
  • Can you afford the additional costs? The cost of home ownership is more than just the mortgage payment. There are taxes, insurance and sometimes homeowner’s dues that need to be considered, not to mention upkeep, repairs, upgrades, and furniture!

Assess Your Finances:

  • Have a good understanding of what your assets and liabilities are.
  • Consider what you can afford. Being house poor and unable to save for emergencies, retirement, college or other financial goals can create a stressful situation.
  • Speak with a lender about which programs you may qualify for; what a lender will approve you for and how much you can afford may not be the same thing.
  • Take a look at your credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com offers a free credit report from all three credit bureaus. Get one from each bureau and check it for accuracy.
  • Meet with a financial advisor to strategize your financial planning Is it better to make a higher down payment, pay down debt to get your debt to income ratios lower? Or is it better to leave the money invested so the lender includes this in your financial reserves?

Get Pre-approval:

  • Your chosen lender will review your financial information and credit, then make an assessment about how much home you can buy, what down payment is required, and the best loan program. The lender then provides a preapproval letter.
  • A second option is having an underwriter review your completed file, evaluating your income, credit, and financial assets, then providing a pre-approval letter.   Having an underwriter review your file may require application fees and other costs to be paid up front.

Contact a real estate agent:

Start your search online to help narrow down location and potential neighborhoods. This can save time (and therefore money) by giving you a sense of where you want to live and what is available in your price range.

  • Pay attention above all to location: be sure you are within an acceptable commute to work, schools and other activities that you will be involved in on a regular basis.
  • Consider resale value: do not buy the most expensive home in the neighborhood.
  • Consider how you want to use your financial resources: fixer-uppers are the best bargains but take both cash and time to complete.

Buying a home is an exciting decision and can result in a solid investment that appreciates over time. Whether or not this is the right moment to purchase is something you should evaluate carefully with your financial advisor, based on your current financial plan and your long-term goals, not based on the news or economic “predictions.”

While interest rates may have risen slightly they are still at historic lows, so don’t miss out the opportunities that a low-interest rate environment offers homeowners and prospective homeowners.

***

 

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.