For most people, changing employers will not impact the ability to qualify for a mortgage loan, especially if you will be earning more money. However, for some homebuyers, the effects of changing jobs can spell disaster when it comes to your loan application. Make sure you discuss in great detail with your lender and know ahead of time what implications any change in your employment might arise during your home buying experience and what its impact could be. Always be armed with the best knowledge, and you will stay on the right track.
Traditional, salaried employees:
If you are a salaried employee who doesn't earn additional income from commissions, bonuses, or from working any over-time hours, switching employers should not create a problem. Just make sure to remain in the same line of work. Hopefully, you will be earning a higher salary, which will help you better qualify for your mortgage anyhow!
Standard, hourly employees:
If your income is based on hourly wages and you work a straight 40-hour shift each week without overtime, changing jobs (for the same salary or higher) should not present any trouble for you. Length of employment does come into play for some lenders. They love to see stability and not job-hopping. Stay tight with your lender and disclose everything to them. Let them help guide you in the right direction and hide nothing from them. It will only cause you problems down the road if you do.
Non-traditional commissioned employees:
This scenario is when individuals have a substantial portion of their income stemming from commission paychecks. Lenders typically average your commissions over the last two years, and you should never play around with how lenders calculate your income. Changing employers while keeping a loan application together is not a good idea. It will create uncertainty about your future earnings from commissions. (There would be no track record to procure an average income.) Even if you are selling the same type of product, with essentially the same commission structure, the underwriter will not be sure that your past earnings will accurately predict future earnings. Changing jobs would greatly impact your ability to secure a home in a negative way.
Bonuses - will they help or hurt?
If a substantial portion of your income at your new employer will be generated from bonuses, you may want to discuss this in great detail with your lender before moving ahead. Mortgage lenders will rarely consider future bonuses as income unless you have been on the same job for a minimum of two years and have a good track record of receiving those bonuses. The lender will average your bonuses over the last two years to realistically calculate your earned income. Changing employers means that you do not have the required two-year track record to count bonuses as income. Ouch.
Earning over-time income can help.
Since all employers award overtime hours differently, your overtime income can be determined, but be very careful about switching employers. If you remain at your current job, most likely, if there is a good track record established, your lender will give you credit for the over-time income. They determine your over-time earnings over the last two years and then calculate a monthly average. That's great news! Keep working hard!
What if you're self-employed?
Don't do it if you are considering trading in your steady job for self-employment before buying a new home. Make your purchase first.
Lenders like to see a two-year track record of self-employment income when approving a loan. In addition, self-employed individuals tend to include many expenses on Schedule C of their tax returns. This is especially true in the early years of self-employment. While this minimizes your tax obligation to the IRS, it also minimizes your income potential to qualify for a home loan.
If your income is very high, well above average, and the loan amount you are seeking is considerably "low," your lender will also consider this fact. It would be similar to buying a home for cash, but not quite.
Use Your Realtor
Your realtor has knowledge and experience that can help lead you through the loan process. Realtors work have relationships with mortgage companies and loan officers that they trust. Call Tim and Charlie Anderson, realtors with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate BloomTree Realty in Prescott, for help on buying a home in Prescott, Arizona.