Steve Antonucci's Blog
The gig economy has exploded over the past decade. Today, around 36% of the US workforce is freelancing and many more or self-employed small business owners.
While being your own boss does afford you great freedom to set your hours and often work where you want, you may face extra scrutiny when trying to get financing to buy a home.
Because your income comes from many sources and you may do your own bookkeeping, it's more challenging to prove your income. But fear not. Freelancers can get financing. You just need to be prepared.
Note that every lending institution may be a little different. But here's your quick guide for home financing for freelancers and other self-employed professionals.
1. You may need to work at freelance a little longer
If you just left a nine to five and started freelancing six months ago, you do not yet have the track record of consistent income that a loan officer will be able to see. The loan officer needs to know that you have the money coming in to pay this loan.
In most cases, loan officers like to see applicants who've been successfully freelancing for at least two years.
2. Clean up your bookkeeping
Are you the kind of person who pulls out a box of receipts on April 14th and then scrambles for the next 18 hours trying to account for last year? You may struggle with a loan officer. They need to see well-organized records of incoming and outgoing, just like any business.
You don't have to take an accounting course. But anyone should be able to follow behind your numbers on a spreadsheet to see exactly how you reached the figures that went on your tax return.
3. Get a CPA signature
You may need to get the signature of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on your books for at least the last six months. But please don't do this before they ask for it because it will cost money. The more disorganized your financial records, the more it may cost.
If you'd be embarrassed to show your bookkeeping to a CPA, please see the tip immediately above. You can do this.
4. Make your case
If your income fluctuates wildly or has dropped in the most recent year, that may be a red flag for a loan officer. Even if they don't ask about it, make sure they know why that dip occurred.
Perhaps you were taking care of an aging parent or a sick child. Some of your income may have been delayed for some reason. Be prepare to explain the ebb and flow of your income.
Don't appear to be a victim of circumstance. But do communicate irregularities that don't reflect the success you're experiencing as a freelancer.
5. Have a strong savings
Freelancers' income varies from month to month, but your mortgage payment does not. Show that you're stable and have a backup plan. These savings should be in addition to a down payment.
For more smart home buying tips, follow our blog.
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If you’re looking to take your outdoor space to the next level this summer season there are some simple changes that you can do to bring your yard to a “wow” level.
Use Lighting In Unique Ways
You can really bring visual interest to your backyard by using lighting in unique ways. Think of adding accent lights to walls near the outdoor space (depending upon how it’s enclosed). You can also add hanging lights using a fixture like a pergola or umbrella over a table. This is not only a great way to get outdoor night lighting, but a way to define your space as well.
Use Defining Features
As mentioned above, a pergola or even an umbrella is a great way to define the outdoor space that you have. It will also be a welcome feature to have overhead shade covering for hot summer days. The lighting that you add to these spaces will allow you to use your outdoor area the whole day through with comfort and style.
Think Of Building Up
If the outdoor space that you have is limited, you might want to consider building up. You can make levels of sorts with your yard. This would include adding something like a cement fixture or a wooden deck. While these types of improvements aren’t exactly cheap, they can add to your backyard and give the sense that your outdoor space is bigger than it really is.
Make A Focal Point
If you have a great feature in your yard that provides a great point of vision, you want to make use of it. Be it a fireplace, a fish pond, or something else that your eyes are drawn to, you should place your tables and chairs around this point in order to create an impression.
Make Privacy A Priority
In your yard, you want to make privacy a priority. Whether you add bushes, build a physical wall, or put up some fencing, you don’t want your neighbors to be able to see what’s happening on your property at all times. These features will also help to define the space even more.
Use The Indoors For Inspiration
Your outdoor oasis can be a reflection of the style that you have on the inside of your home. Just because you’re outside, doesn’t mean that everything has to be different. Create a living area complete with tables, chairs, and even an outdoor kitchen if you have the resources. Convenience is key outside, since you don’t want to be running in and out of the house while entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Be sure to complete your patio with accents like throw pillows and even outdoor table lamps to finish the look.
The age-old problem of trying to stretch your household budget is a challenge nearly everyone grapples with at one time or another. If you're confounded by the fact that your paycheck(s) seem to disappear within days of depositing them, it may be time to examine your spending habits.
Creating a written budget is often an eye-opening experience, especially if you haven't taken the time to do that recently -- or ever! Itemizing all your monthly and periodic expenses can not only help you realize where the money's going, but it can also give you a greater feeling of control over your life. As an added bonus, reviewing your household budget a couple times a year will also increase your awareness of your debts, your income, and your spending habits. Once you know how tight your budget is and whether you need to reduce expenses or increase income, you'll be in a stronger position to effectively manage your family's finances.
- Creating a budget: Whether you prefer to use spreadsheets, software, or just a simple income-versus-expenses chart, setting up a budget will help put you in the driver's seat of your cash flow situation. While there are many distinctions between running a business and managing a household, there are probably more similarities than differences!
- Identifying "money leaks": If your family's budget seems tighter than you'd like it to be, one possible reason is that you're spending more than you need to on some expenses. The perfect examples are homeowners' and automobile insurance. You've probably seen and heard countless ads for well-known insurance companies that say they can save you hundreds of dollars a year on your insurance policies. If you've been dismissing those claims as mere hype, consider the possibility that you may actually be paying more on your insurance premiums than necessary. It may be worth your while to have your insurance agent review your policy with you to make sure you're getting all the coverage you need and the discounts to which your entitled. The best way to remove any doubt is to get two or three quotes from other reputable insurance companies. You can often do this through email or online, so you shouldn't have to go to time-consuming office appointments just to get a few insurance quotes. To compare "apples to apples," make sure to use identical coverage amounts and deductibles for each estimate your seeking; hopefully the agents you deal with will remind you of that. It's also possible to save hundreds more dollars a year by contacting your cable TV company, Internet service provider, and cell phone service (It might be one company) to discuss ways your bill can be lowered. The first step would be to examine your latest invoice and determine whether you're paying for services you don't use or need. If you see charges that are excessive or confusing, don't hesitant to get on the phone and have those issues clarified. If inconsistent utility bills are a problem, then switching over to a monthly budget plan will make your expenses more predictable and manageable.