Our new Q&A gives tips to an anxious homebuyer

Because money doesn’t come with instructions.®

Article published: June 05, 2024

This Q&A is based on questions we receive from clients, just like you. Have a question that involves a dollar sign? Share it! Our planners and subject matter experts will help answer them in upcoming issues of Inside Personal Finance. Send us your questions here.



I’m self-employed and getting a mortgage close to my retirement has become a challenge. If your year-over-year income decreases by a certain percentage, I’m told it can be hard to get a loan. I have more than $1.6 million in assets, and I am having to scramble to buy a house because I’m slowing down my business, and next year my income could be 20% less. What should I do?



Let’s face it, it can be easier to get a mortgage when you have an earned income than when you don’t. If clients are considering buying a home, we ask them to think about doing it before they retire for this reason.

That said, those who are self-employed may have a harder time getting loans, including mortgages, if their incomes are inconsistent. But that’s not to say you can’t get a mortgage merely because you’re self-employed. You simply need to meet the tests of lenders, which may include income stability. Bear in mind that even if your income is unstable, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a mortgage.

Your $1.6 million gives you an advantage. If that money is in investments (not real estate or other illiquid assets such as jewelry, artwork or collectibles), your financial planner should be able to provide the lender with a letter stating that your portfolio is capable of producing “x” amount of monthly or annual income. Many lenders accept such letters; some want to see two or three months of statements showing that you’ve actually generated such income. You didn’t mention other income sources, such as Social Security, which could increase your borrowing capacity even more. And you didn’t mention debts, such as existing car loans, which would decrease the amount you could borrow to buy a home.


We hope you found this information helpful

Remember that any financial guidance must be adapted to your unique circumstances. For full guidance, always contact your financial planner.