Self-employed turn to non-bank lenders to crack the housing market

Personal Finance

The trick is knowing where to apply.

Guy Cecala, publisher and chief executive officer of Inside Mortgage Finance, recommends comparing interest rate and underwriting information from a credit union, a big bank such as Wells Fargo or JPMorgan Chase, and a non-bank lender.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting a loan from a non-bank,” Cecala said. “Often you’ll get better terms, better service and looser underwriting.”

PennyMac Financial and are among the biggest such players, according to Cecala. Given that an estimated 15 million Americans were self-employed in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two groups may be natural partners.

June Richardson, a vice president at mortgage lender GuardHill Financial Corp. in New York, is a loan officer who works with the self-employed and other variable-income borrowers, as well as foreign nationals and applicants to cooperative and condominium buildings.

If a prospective loan doesn’t fit Guardhill’s criteria, Richardson might still be able to put together a deal with a local savings bank or a lender that serves high net-worth clients.

“Life is not a cookie-cutter circumstance. Everyone has their own set of baggage that they come to you with,” Richardson said. “You need to have the right team behind you in order to get the deal done.”

Although an increasing percentage of households headed by 65- to-74-year-olds carry debt backed by their homes, obtaining a mortgage can be challenging. Fannie Mae’s HomeReady program allows the income of adult children to be considered in an application even if they don’t plan to reside in their parents’ home. In other cases, lenders may count a percentage of assets in qualifying for a loan.

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