Getting a mortgage with a new job? It's easier than you think

Aaron Crowe
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Aaron Crowe
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Getting A Mortgage Without 2 Years Work History

Most mortgage lenders prefer that you have worked consistently in the same field for at least two (2) years before you qualify for a mortgage. It is still possible to get one with a shorter work history. However, you would need to prove that you are employed and that you have a steady income. If you are a recent graduate, you can still qualify for a mortgage if you have a job offer with a high financial compensation level. The job should also represent a stable career track. It is an advantage if the job is in the same field as your degree.

You also get a waiver if you have only been recently discharged from the military, and you now have a job similar to what you did while you were enlisted. Lenders typically regard this as a continuation of employment. Also, a medical report of a medical condition that prevented you from working may be acceptable.

To qualify for a mortgage with short work history, it is helpful if you have factors that compensate for the lack of job history. These could include a large down payment or a high credit score. The interest rate on your loan may be slightly higher than normal to compensate for the increased risk associated with your short job history.

Changing Jobs Before Buying A House

Changing jobs before or during the mortgage application process could be a problem for the lenders. This is usually the case if the switch is from a higher-paying job to a lower-paying one. It may also be a problem if you switch from a more stable industry to a job in a less stable industry. If you move from one job to another, and your income stays relatively stable, then it shouldn't be a problem.

This applies even if the jobs are not in the same field. Lenders look for stability above all else. If you have a history of moving from job to job, lenders may consider you high risk. That said, frequently switching jobs is not bad in itself. If your income and responsibility increase from job to job, it should not affect your mortgage application.

If you have gaps in your employment history, you can still be eligible for a mortgage, provided you can show that your income is sufficient, reliable, and ongoing, and you have a good reason for the gaps. If you get a new job after six (6) months or less, all you need is to get your first paycheck within 30 days of closing your loan. If you have been unemployed for more than six (6) months, you are unlikely to get a loan. 

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There are plenty of requirements you must meet when applying for a new mortgage or when you plan to refinance your existing loan. Lenders will look at your debt levels, income and credit score. They’ll also look at your employment history. Fortunately, getting a mortgage with a new job is far from an impossible task.

mortgage with new job

The general rule has been that lenders prefer to work with borrowers who have worked in the same field for at least two years. But this rule comes with more leeway than do other underwriting requirements. Because of this, mortgage lenders are more willing to overlook a job history filled with fresh starts in new careers than they are a low credit score or a high debt-to-income ratio.

And this is good news for applicants who have started a new job just a month or two before applying for a mortgage.

Steady salary is what matters

Kris Shenton, sales manager with Equity Prime Mortgage in Crofton, Maryland, said that a new job isn't always a hurdle for borrowers. As long as the new job pays a salary, and isn't based solely or largely on commissions, then an applicant should have little trouble qualifying for a mortgage, as long as that new salary provides a large enough income to support the borrower's new monthly mortgage payments, Shenton said.

Complications can pop up when borrowers are relying on non-salary income, Shenton said. Borrowers who have gone from a salaried job to self-employment will need to show at least two years' worth of tax returns to prove that their new income is stable and not likely to disappear any time soon. If they can't provide these returns, lenders won't consider these self-employment dollars as part of their qualifying income.

Borrowers who switch to a new job in a different field, might give lenders some pause. But most lenders are willing to overlook the job change as long, again, as the new job pays on a salary basis, Shenton said.

"If a borrower is switching a line of work, say the borrower was a scientist and is now a lawyer, then it's case-by-case," Shenton said. "Though typically, so long as it is a salaried position, you are fine to get a mortgage now."

Be careful with bonus or commission income

Kyle Dickmann, president of Denver's Dickmann Taxx Group, says that borrowers need to be cautious about taking on new jobs in which a large portion of their yearly salary will be made up of bonuses or commissions that can rise or fall. Lenders are more nervous about income that isn't as steady as a traditional salary.

"The two-year job history is actually a bit overstated," Dickmann said. "The bigger issue is how much of your paycheck is a fixed amount, like a salary, and how much is commissions or a bonus."

Dickmann knows this. When he was a young attorney, he applied for both a mortgage and car loan without realizing that a large portion of his earnings included bonuses. His lender turned down his application for a mortgage, while his auto lender stuck him with a high interest rate.

The good news? If you can prove that your bonus or commission income is stable, lenders will accept it. This, though, requires time, and time isn't something applicants have when they take on a new commission-heavy job just weeks or months before applying for a mortgage.

Dickmann, for instance, had to wait six months to show the bank that his bonus income was stable, and he had to prove this by showing his lender those six months' worth of paycheck stubs.

"While job history is important, my experience has been that establishing stability in income can easily overcome the two-year job history limitation," Dickmann said.

The numbers that matter more

Lenders are more interested in your three-digit credit score, which shows how well you've paid your bills and handled credit in the past, and your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio measures how much of your gross monthly income is gobbled up by your monthly debt obligations.

credit scoreLenders want your total monthly debts, including your estimated new mortgage payment, to equal no more than 43 percent of your gross monthly income. If your ratio is higher than that, you'll struggle to qualify for a loan. Lenders also view three-digit FICO credit scores of 740 or higher to be excellent scores. Scores in the 700 range will generally net lower mortgage rates and easier approvals.

If these two numbers are strong, that two-year job history isn't as important. As long as you have enough income to support your monthly payments, most lenders will overlook the fact that you took a new job three weeks ago.

"The two-year job history is a myth," said Bob Gordon, real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Boulder, Colorado.

Gordon pointed to the two recent college graduates, both with no work history, whom he helped buy homes in the Boulder area. The two buyers hadn't even started the new jobs they accepted, presenting lenders only with a letter of intent from their new employers. The two also had short credit histories, but they were good histories, with no missed or late payments on their records.

The key to persuading lenders to overlook that job switch? You'll need those strong credit scores and debt-to-income ratios.

In reality, all that lenders are concerned about it the ability for the borrowers to make their repayments. Caution is taken with commission or bonus income, but at the end of the day, it's the numbers that count.

frequently asked questions

It is possible to get a mortgage while you are unemployed. It is possible if you have a strong credit history, a good credit score and you get some sort of income regularly. Unemployment benefits do not qualify.

Yes, you can. This applies especially if you are a fresh graduate or you served in the military.

Changing jobs can affect you getting a mortgage if you move to an unstable job. It could also affect you if you take a pay cut or have a history of switching jobs without an increase in income.

You can, if you have a steady income, but it is unlikely. It is better to apply for a loan modification instead.

You can be approved for a mortgage on a part-time job if you have regular hours, you have been at the job for a while, and the job is stable.

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