How Your Business Set-up Affects Your Mortgage Chances
When you set up your own business you have a choice of three main business structures to choose from. Which one you pick will influence how lenders view your income.
As the name suggests, sole traders are one-man bands. Keeping records and accounts is fairly straightforward – and you get to keep all the profits.
It’s these profits a lender will look at when assessing your income. If you do your tax by self-assessment and get HMRC to calculate it for you, you may get a form called an SA302, which shows the total income received and total tax due. Your lender may want to see this alongside your accounts, so dig it out and have it ready.
If you go into business with someone else, you might set up a partnership. When looking at your income, mortgage lenders will look at each partner’s share of the profit. So, make sure you have accounts that show exactly how much money you made so your potential mortgage lender can easily see your annual income.
Setting up a limited company means you keep your business separate from your personal affairs. A limited company will have at least one director and, in some cases, a company secretary.
Directors normally pay themselves a basic salary plus dividend payments. Make sure the lender takes both these elements of your income into consideration when assessing mortgage affordability.
The key change for self-employed workers is the need to prove your income to any mortgage lender you apply to. Most will want to see at least two years’ accounts or tax returns. The more accounts you can show the better.
Two years’ accounts
A track record of regular work
A healthy deposit
A good credit history
When lenders determine how much to lend to you, they generally base their calculations on your average profit in the past few years. Lenders prefer borrowers to employ an accountant to prepare self-employed workers’ accounts. Some lenders state the accountant must be certified or chartered – so bear this in mind when choosing one. You can find a local chartered accountant here. Make sure your accounts are up-to-date and in order before you apply – lenders aren’t impressed if they are presented with out-of-date figures.
If you don’t have two years’ accounts, don’t panic. Some mortgage lenders will still consider your application, especially if you can prove a track record of regular work, you have left employment to work as a contractor in the same industry, or you have evidence of work lined up for the future.
In other cases, if you already have a mortgage and want to remortgage to save money or move home, your existing lender may be able to help. They have a history with you, and know you meet your repayments so are far more likely to help than a lender who doesn’t know you.
As with any other borrower, it will massively increase your chances of being accepted for a mortgage if you have a decent deposit or chunk of equity in an existing property. Find out more about how a deposit can help, and how much you need, with our guide.
A squeaky clean credit record will also boost your chances of getting a mortgage. Find out more with our guide to understanding your credit rating and find out how to improve your credit rating. A lender won’t just credit check you, they will also credit check your business by running a check on your business address. So make sure that credit report is in the best possible shape too, sort out any unpaid or late debts and check the report yourself to make sure there aren’t any mistakes that could damage your chances of getting a mortgage.
In order to prove your income you will need to be able to provide your lender with at least two years of accounts. Get these put together by a chartered accountant so your lender can be confident they are accurate. But make sure you understand the figures and can talk the lender through them if asked. For example, if you have a dip in your income at a certain point, be able to explain what happened and why. If you can clearly explain fluctuations it is a lot more impressive than if you get flustered when questioned, and therefore increases your chances of getting a mortgage.
There are a couple of common problems you may come up against when proving your income. Firstly, in the past you, and your accountant, will probably have been keen to legally reduce taxable income in order to pay less tax. However, this could count against you when applying for a mortgage as suddenly you need to show the biggest income possible.
Get advice from your accountant and the Cornwall Mortgage Centre before you apply
Secondly if you’re a director of a limited company, you might have profits that you choose to retain in the business, rather than take out as salary or dividends.
Some mortgage lenders consider retained profits when assessing an application, but some don’t. In some situations this can mean company directors find it more difficult to get a mortgage than their employees.