Fear of rejection stops self-employed from applying for a mortgage

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 7 November 2023

A couple get the keys to their first home

One in three self-employed individuals have never applied for a mortgage and many say they haven't even tried because they assume they would be rejected.

A study by The Mortgage Lender (TML) has found that 34% of self-employed workers have never applied for a mortgage and 30% of those say it's because they didn't think they would be approved. Overall, 26% say that they had heard that it's more challenging for self-employed people to get a mortgage.

The findings show that other reasons why self-employed people have not applied for a mortgage in the past include the fact that individuals had not built up their deposit yet (36%), they're waiting for interest rates to come down (17%), they find the process too daunting (10%) or their business is less than two years old and so they don't have the necessary documentation to prove their income when applying (15%).

While 57% of self-employed people have applied for a mortgage and been successful, 15% of this group said they were unsuccessful on their first attempt. A further, 4% revealed they applied in the past and have not yet been successful. Of those who have been rejected for a mortgage previously:

  • 38% said they were not approved due to volatile income;
  • 28% said the lender they applied through calculated that they wouldn't be able to make the repayments;
  • 27% said they did not have the necessary documentation to prove their income;
  • 11% said their mortgage rejection was based on missed or late payments;
  • 11% said they had a default or a CCJ in the past six years;
  • 5% were rejected because they were not registered to vote on the electoral roll.

Steve Griffiths, chief commercial officer at TML, said: "Self-employed work is becoming an increasingly popular route, with around 4.24 million people reporting to be self-employed in July 2023; however, it's clear that some lenders, particularly on the high street, haven't necessarily caught up with this trend and aren't always equipped to deal with more complex incomes. It's unfortunate that this is putting off so many self-employed workers from even applying when they could in fact be great candidates for a mortgage. Especially when there are specialist lenders who are well placed to support their property aspirations."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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