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Getting a single income mortgage

The key information you need to know about applying for a single income mortgage

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By Pete Mugleston   Mortgage Advisor

Last updated: 5th April 2019 *

How do I get a mortgage on a single income?

We receive lots of enquiries relating to single income mortgages. It may be you’re a married couple with a sole wage earner wanting to know what mortgage you can get on one income or you’re unattached and want to know how much a single person can borrow for a mortgage.

Looking for a mortgage with just one income can seem tough. The good news is there’s lots of lenders who will consider single income mortgages. Once you’ve looked through all the information below it’s vital you make an enquiry with us so we can arrange for a specialist we work with to contact you directly.

In this article we’ll look at:

  • How do single income mortgages work?
  • What mortgage can I afford to get with just one income?
  • What affordability tests do lenders use for single income mortgages?
  • Can couples apply for a mortgage with just one income?
  • Can my parents act as guarantor for a single income mortgage?
  • How much deposit do I need for a single income mortgage?
  • Can I get a single income mortgage if I have a poor credit record?

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How do single income mortgages work?

As the name suggests, a single income mortgage is based on one person’s income. Typically, single income mortgages are used by people who don’t have a life partner or by couples where only one partner earns an income as a means to buy a property.

Are single income mortgages better than joint income mortgages?

Well, there’s no better or worse really. It’s all down to your own personal circumstances. If you’re looking to buy a property on your own and you want to use a mortgage facility you will have to make a single income mortgage application based on your sole earnings.

If you’re looking to apply for a mortgage with someone else to buy a property and you both have an income stream then your application will appear stronger if you use a joint income mortgage solution as a higher income should give a greater opportunity for you to hit your borrowing target.

Is it harder to get accepted for a mortgage when you only have one income?

Yes, it can be more difficult getting approval for a mortgage with just the one income these days as lenders use much more stringent affordability assessments. If other factors come into play, such as a low deposit or previous credit issues, this will narrow down further the number of lenders who would be willing to consider your application.

It’s possible you’re reading this article having already been declined outright or not offered the terms you were looking for. It’s important you don’t give up hope as all lenders use different criteria when reviewing applications.

The advisors we work with will be able to look at the whole market and consider lenders who have a positive track record in single income mortgage applications, so, make an enquiry and we can arrange a meeting.

What mortgage can I afford to get with just one income?

There’s really two parts to this question:

  • How much can I borrow with one income?
  • What mortgage payment can I afford on my own income?

Both above points may sound similar but can actually lead to very different answers. Historically, working out what you can borrow was pretty straightforward. Most lenders would use a multiple of your income to establish how much you can borrow for a mortgage.

For example, a single person with a sole income of £30,000 approaches a lender for a mortgage. This specific lender uses an income multiple of, say, 4x salary, therefore, would be prepared to lend this applicant up to £120,000.

The use of income multiples was a very simple and easy formula for deciding how much someone can borrow. It also made an assumption that what a person could borrow was also what they could afford as a monthly mortgage payment.

However, what if the individual in the example above has a number of other financial commitments (loans, credit card payments) that place a strain on their disposable income? What if interest rates begin to climb a few years into their mortgage term but their wage has remained the same?

How are things different now?

The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) in 2014 resulted in a number of significant changes in the way lenders viewed what mortgage someone can afford. These changes have resulted in lenders taking a much more responsible approach, using in-depth affordability analysis, before deciding what an applicant is able to borrow.

The introduction of mortgage affordability calculators offers a prospective borrower a clearer opportunity for you to understand how much you can borrow, based on your current and future outgoings, before you move forward and submit your application.

Income multiples are still a key factor used by lenders when determining what an applicant is able to borrow. For single income mortgages, most lenders will use an income multiple of 4x salary, some will use x5 and a few will stretch to x6.

Lenders who offer higher  income multiples will, most likely, base their decision solely on the applicant's ability to pass their affordability checks.

For more in-depth information on this area take a look at our article here.

What affordability tests do lenders use for single income mortgages?

Every lender has its own in-house affordability assessment criteria when reviewing an application. If a lender declines an applicant that does not mean another lender will do the same.

Here’s a look at the areas that will be scrutinised on an application:

Income

For employed applicants lenders will take into account 100% of their basic salary. They will also take into account overtime, bonus schemes, regular commission and car or location allowances. However, unlike base salary not all lenders will necessarily accept the total amount of these additions to earned income. Most will accept 50%, however there are some who will accept 100%.

Self-employed applicants will typically need to show evidence of past trading over a period of time. Usually lenders will look at self-employed income as net profit drawn from the business. Most lenders will want to see a track record of at least 3 years, some will want to see 2 years, a few will accept only a 12 month track record and a handful can even consider less than 12 months in the right circumstances.

Whilst most lenders will want to see evidence  of earned income, some lenders will also look at single income applications where the income is derived from other sources such as rental or investment income. If you’re unsure whether your income is suitable for a mortgage, then make an enquiry and one of the experts we work with can give you the right advice.

Outgoings

In addition to your income position, a lender will want to take a very detailed look at your current outgoings and living costs. Such expenditure will include credit card and loan payments, utility bills and typical food and grocery costs.

In order to back up these costs a lender may want to see your most recent bank statements in order to corroborate this expenditure. All of this may seem as though a lender is prying into your private financial affairs, however, they are doing this to ensure you’re clearly able to afford the monthly mortgage payments.

Future changes in your income and expenditure

A lender will also want to ‘stress-test’ your finances to be satisfied that you will be able to cope with any changes in your expenditure during the term of your mortgage.

The lender will want to be assured you will be able to meet your mortgage commitments if there is an increase in interest rates, if you were unable to work or how prepared you are for any significant life changes such as marriage or having children.

Such stringent affordability assessments are performed to provide confidence both for the lender and yourself that you don’t run the risk of falling behind with your mortgage payments.

Lenders all use their own criteria for affordability, therefore, you really need to speak to a specialist who understands all the different nuances. Make an enquiry and we’ll have one of the advisors we work with give you the right advice.

Can couples apply for a mortgage with just one income?

Yes, of course. It’s not unusual for many households to rely solely on one income, whether permanently or on a temporary basis. Lots of couples, whether married or unmarried, may require one partner to be at home to look after their children or who is unable to work for a variety of reasons.

When a lender is considering any future changes to income and expenditure, it may well be that a partner who is not working intends to seek work opportunities at a later date (when the children reach a certain age, for example). In this instance this would possibly add credence to an application rather than hinder it.

Will credit checks be carried out on both applicants?

As with a single person, all the affordability criteria will be applied to the income and outgoings of one set of earnings. However, the credit history checks will be conducted on both applicants, which may actually help if you both have a very clean record.

As mentioned above if, as a couple, you both work and have regular incomes it would make more sense to apply on a joint income basis as two incomes will be higher than one and should bolster the overall affordability assessment.

To get more information on this particular area, make an enquiry with one of the specialists we work with today.

Can my parents act as guarantor for a single income mortgage?

Yes, they certainly can. In fact guarantor mortgages are becoming more common these days, particularly for first-time buyers. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily have to be a parent who acts as a guarantor, most lenders who offer guarantor mortgages would advise a family member, although some allow close friend to act as guarantors.

The main role of a guarantor is to take responsibility for the mortgage repayments in the event you, as the original applicant, are unable to do so or use their property as security for the mortgage. Having a guarantor can usually add more credence to an application and allow for more lenders to give it consideration.

Guarantors usually have to put up a property they own as security, or place a lump sum in a savings account held by the lender, which they cannot withdraw from until a specific amount has been paid off the mortgage. The savings they put down, however, may accrue interest during the term.

Typically, guarantor’s can be released from this responsibility during the term of a mortgage, usually after a set number of years or until a specific amount as been paid off the mortgage.

What is a joint mortgage with a sole proprietor?

This is a variation on a guarantor mortgage where the application would be made on a joint basis but with the intention of just one of the applicants living in the property. A typical example would be between a parent and son/daughter where the child is unable to secure a mortgage in their own right.

Whereas a guarantor would usually have no ownership or equity rights, in this instance the ownership and equity rights would need to be agreed at outset, usually through a trust deed drawn up by a solicitor.

Both a guarantor mortgage and joint mortgage sole proprietor can carry a number of risks and advantages for all parties, therefore, it’s important you make an enquiry with us so we can put you in touch with an expert in this area.

How much deposit do I need for a single income mortgage?

The short answer is - as much as you can bring to the table. Whilst there isn’t a direct correlation between a mortgage application and a lenders deposit requirements, the higher the deposit you have, the more lenders will be willing to consider your application.

A single income mortgage application with a low deposit will be seen as more risky resulting in less lenders giving it due consideration and those who will may apply higher interest rates to negate this risk. Most lenders will accept deposits of 20%, some will accept 10% and a select few will accept as little as 5%.

Understanding deposit requirements across the entire mortgage market can be quite a task. It’s important you speak to an advisor who will be able to assist you on this subject.

Can I get a single income mortgage if I have a poor credit record?

There’s no doubt a bad credit rating can cause problems with a mortgage application, depending on the type of issue you’ve had and when it was registered.

The great news is there are some lenders who will look at applications from borrowers who have had credit issues in the past and a few who specialise in these types of applications.

Certain specialist lenders will consider:

  • Single income mortgage applications with Late payments
  • Single income mortgage applications with Defaults
  • Single income mortgage applications with CCJs
  • Single income mortgage applications with Mortgage arrears
  • Single income mortgage applications with Debt management plans
  • Single income mortgage applications with IVAs
  • Single income mortgage applications with Bankruptcy
  • Single income mortgage applications with Repossession

Speak to a single income mortgage specialist

If you are ready to establish the right mortgage for you, have a question or you’d like to know more, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances.  – We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 5th April 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.