Don't Be 'Spooked' by Mortgages If You're Self-Employed

Halloween festivals are upon us, and the days are drawing darker. But for the self-employed, there may be another ‘spook’ on the horizon altogether: securing a mortgage. Navigating the mortgage landscape as a self-employed individual may seem daunting, but it is not as scary as many make it seem.

Self-employed individuals often face unique challenges during the mortgage application process, like proof of steady income and financial stability. The road might be slightly more twisted, with lenders often displaying more caution due to the perceived risks associated with income fluctuations and the potential of business downsides. But the desired outcome is far from impossible. By meticulously searching the market, self-employed individuals can discover lenders who are not only willing, but eager to tailor mortgage products to meet their unique needs.

The Myths

A perception looms that mortgages are doomed for the self-employed. But much like the illusory nature of Halloween, these fears are largely unfounded and based on misconceptions. Being self-employed doesn’t make you an undesirable candidate for a mortgage; it simply means the tale takes a few unique twists and turns.

What Lenders are Looking For

In the UK, the core principles for obtaining a mortgage are relatively standard, whether you’re a salaried individual or an entrepreneur. Lenders want assurance that you can repay the loan. In a traditional employment scenario, this is somewhat straightforward. For the self-employed, it can sometimes feel a bit more complex.

The key is to represent your financial standing as clearly as possible. While salaried individuals provide payslips, the self-employed can offer accounts, usually verified by a certified or chartered accountant. What’s vital is to show consistency and ideally an upward trend in income. Lenders love stability.

Unique Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Navigating the terrain of mortgage acquisition, self-employed individuals often encounter the hurdle of income variability. Unlike their salaried counterparts, the self-employed might see their income fluctuating due to various factors, including market dynamics or reinvestment in their business. A key to easing lenders’ concerns about income variability is maintaining thorough financial records. This includes not only accurate income statements, but also a comprehensive record of business expenses, tax returns, and any other sources of income. Should there be significant income fluctuations, being prepared to explain the underlying reasons is crucial. For example, explaining a year of lower personal income due to substantial business reinvestment, which in turn set the stage for heightened profits in subsequent years, can provide a clear narrative that eases lenders’ concerns.

Besides income variability, being perceived as a higher risk is another challenge for self-employed mortgage applicants. The perception of risk could be mitigated in several ways. A substantial deposit, for instance, not only reduces the loan amount, but also demonstrates a solid financial commitment, potentially lowering the risk in the eyes of the lender. Additionally, considering a joint mortgage application with a partner with a stable income can also help alleviate the perceived risk. 

Another avenue to explore is opting for mortgage products that offer a longer fixed-rate term. Such products could provide the lender with more assurance regarding your ability to meet the mortgage payments despite income variances. 

Furthermore, specialist lenders who cater specifically to self-employed individuals or those with non-traditional income streams should not be overlooked. They often harbour a deeper understanding of income dynamics outside the conventional salaried framework, and might have more lenient or flexible criteria when evaluating the financial stability and risk of self-employed applicants.

Through thorough preparation, strategic financial manoeuvring, and professional guidance, the self-employed can significantly strengthen their standing in the eyes of mortgage lenders, making their mortgage dreams a reality.

Special Mortgage Types and Options

Some lenders might offer a mortgage specifically tailored for contractors, freelancers, or business owners.  There exists a niche of lenders who craft mortgage products with these unique financial narratives in mind, paving a smoother path towards homeownership:

Contractor-Specific Mortgages:

Lenders offering contractor-specific mortgages often have a deeper understanding of the contract-based work model. They may consider not just your current contract rate, but also your contracting history, skill set, and demand in your field. This approach can translate into more favourable mortgage terms, breaking free from the conventional assessment based on annual accounts or tax returns.

Freelancer-Friendly Mortgages:

Freelancers often face income fluctuations due to the project-based nature of their work. Freelancer-friendly mortgage lenders may offer flexibility by assessing a freelancer’s income over a longer period, or by considering the sustainability and demand of the freelancer’s skills. They may also have a more lenient view of periods of lower income, especially if there’s a strong earning potential demonstrated.

Business Owner Mortgages:

Business owners may find that some lenders offer mortgages that consider the health and profitability of their business, rather than just personal income. Such products may allow for a broader view of a business owner’s financial standing, including retained profits in the business, which could significantly enhance borrowing power.

Each of these mortgage pathways offers a unique combination of understanding and flexibility. By aligning with a lender who appreciates the distinctive financial fabric of self-employed individuals, you can transform from a haunting spectre into a welcoming reality.

Timing and Planning

One thing that can’t be underestimated is the importance of timing. While a traditionally employed person may secure a mortgage relatively quickly, the self-employed often require more time for preparation and verification. If you’re self-employed and considering homeownership, start preparing your financial documents and reviewing your credit report well in advance.

Credit Score

Although it’s important for everyone, maintaining a good credit score can be especially crucial for self-employed individuals. A strong credit history is a testament to your financial reliability and can significantly mollify the perception of higher risk associated with a variable income.

Tax Implications

Being self-employed often brings unique tax situations that you might need to consider. For example, you may have the option of writing off certain expenses, thereby lowering your taxable income. While this may save money in the short term, it could also reduce the income you can claim when applying for a mortgage. Discuss the implications with your accountant to find a balance that works for you.

Future-Proofing Your Mortgage

Consider mortgage products with features that offer some flexibility, such as the ability to make overpayments without penalties. For self-employed people who may experience windfalls at random intervals, this can be a particularly useful feature.

The Importance of Expert Advice

Navigating the mortgage landscape as a self-employed individual requires serious attention to detail and deep understanding of financial norms and regulations. Engaging a mortgage adviser with experience in self-employed cases can be reassuring. They can guide you through the complex corridors of mortgage products, interest rates, and eligibility criteria.

Facing Rejection and Navigating Forward

Encountering a rejection on a mortgage application can seem like a daunting setback, especially for self-employed individuals who have navigated through the complex process. However, it’s crucial to remember that a rejection is not a terminal verdict, but a bump in the journey. Here’s how to cope and navigate forward:

Understanding the Rejection: Lenders are obligated to provide a reason for denying your application. The rejection letter, often referred to as an adverse action notice, will outline why you were denied. Common reasons include low credit score, high debt-to-income ratio, or inconsistent income.

Rectify the Issues: Once you’ve pinpointed the cause(s) of rejection, work on rectifying them. This could mean improving your credit score, reducing debts, or waiting until you have a more consistent income.

Consider a Guarantor: If possible, having a guarantor with a stable income and good credit score can significantly enhance your mortgage application’s attractiveness.

Explore Alternative Lenders: Not all lenders have the same strict requirements. Some may be more amenable to self-employed individuals or those with non-traditional income streams.

Seek Professional Advice: Engage with a mortgage adviser to understand the specifics lenders look for, especially for self-employed applicants. We can provide insights and advice to improve your chances in your next application.

Maintain a Positive Outlook: Rejection can be disheartening, but maintaining a positive, proactive outlook is essential. Evaluate it as an opportunity to improve your financial standing and continue to work towards your mortgage goals.

Reapply When Ready: Once you’ve addressed the issues that led to your rejection, and have sought professional advice, you’ll be in a stronger position to reapply. Ensure your financial documentation is in order, and approach the application with confidence.


The journey to securing a mortgage as a self-employed individual may present its share of spooky turns, but with a solid plan and the right guidance, the path becomes much less intimidating.

So this Halloween, let’s change the narrative. Cast away the myths and misconceptions like old cobwebs, and light the way for a more informed, less apprehensive journey toward securing a mortgage. Because there should only be one thing giving you the chills this season — and it’s not the achievable dream of self employed mortgages. 


Status Mortgage Services is a trading style of Status Financial Services Limited which is an appointed representative of The Openwork Partnership, a trading style of Openwork Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 23/10/2023