5 Types of Income Mortgage Lenders Will Consider

The newest lending guidelines require that you have more income compared to what you owe every month. Knowing what types of income a mortgage lender will use is more important than ever.

Jul 19, 2014 at 6:31PM

The newest mortgage lending guidelines require that you have more income than what you owe each month. A low debt-to-income ratio is crucial, so it's more important than ever to know what types of income mortgage lenders will factor into that equation.

Here are five types of income that you'll want to report to your mortgage lender if applicable.

1. Overtime income
Working overtime can either help or hinder in the mortgage approval process. If you have consistently worked overtime over the past two years and are still getting the same amount so far this year, then this income can be considered. If there has been a sudden drop, or even a sudden spike, in overtime hours, it may be less likely that overtime will help, and it could even be a red flag to the lender that your employment situation is unstable. Make sure you know someone in HR who can help out with an explanation, because any fluctuations in this type of income will need to be explained.

2. Investment income
Using income from IRA distributions or dividend interest can get tricky these days. The general rule is that you must have been receiving it for at least two years, and it must continue for at least three more. There are some cases where you can start taking a distribution, and so long as the arrangement is in writing and you have received a few months' worth of payments, you'll be able to use this to qualify for a loan. Dividend and interest income is always averaged over a couple of years, so make sure you have all the schedules of your tax returns ready. 

One big caveat to capital gains income: It's almost never usable for qualifying purposes anymore. If you're a real-estate investor, even if you have a history of buying and selling properties every year, it's not likely to be considered a qualifying source of income.

3. Nontaxable income
Social security, pensions, and other forms of employer retirement income have an added bonus: the gross up. In most cases you get an extra $250 worth of loan qualifying power for every $1,000 of nontaxable income you receive. This can make a huge difference in qualifying for a loan. The basic idea is that because lenders use gross income to qualify people who have taxable income, someone who has nontaxable income has more spending power, as no taxes are being taken out.

Here's a quick example. Assuming you receive $2,000 of nontaxable social-security pension, without the gross up, you could qualify for about a $130,000 loan for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at current rates. 

But grossing up that income 25% gives you $2,500 per month of qualifying income, which means your loan-qualifying maximum just went up to about $170,000.

If you are still in an active-duty or civilian military position, some of your income may be nontaxable -- be sure to have a copy of your pay stub for your mortgage professional so he or she can review it for items that can be grossed up. Child support is also nontaxable so long as you can prove you've been receiving it consistently for the last 12 months and the decree shows that it will last at least three more years. 

4. Unemployment income
You might be surprised to learn that unemployment income is a valid source of income when applying for a mortgage. Seasonal workers -- i.e., people who who earn the bulk of their income during a particular period each year, such as the holidays or an agricultural season -- will often have regular periods of unemployment. So long as the income earned and the time periods are fairly consistent, seasonal income and unemployment income can be used to get a mortgage. 

5. Self-employed income
Self-employed borrowers often feel picked on these days. During the stated-income heyday, it was a lot easier to get a loan, because tax returns didn't need to be analyzed. If you're unfamiliar with "stated income," the basic idea was that you could write down any income, without verification by the lender, and if your credit score was high enough, you got a loan. Originally designed to help self-employed borrowers avoid the hassle of providing truckloads of tax returns, the program began to be offered to customers who had fixed incomes -- and then, eventually, to anyone with a pulse. People with entry-level jobs in the hospitality industry were "stating" six-figure salaries and buying huge houses. When values dropped, these same customers couldn't sell their houses at a profit, and a tsunami of foreclosures began.

Many self-employed borrowers qualify without stated-income loans. Unfortunately, the pool of mortgage sales people who know how to analyze returns is very small, as many of them started in the business during the "fog this mirror and you get a loan" days. Ask your mortgage professional if he or she has experience analyzing tax returns. If not, you aren't likely to get a fair shot at a loan approval.

Foolish final points
Make sure you provide information about every source of income you receive, no matter how insignificant you think it is. You'll need to have a contact in your human resources department available to write up a letter of explanation or fill out a verification of employment form if your income has a lot of bells and whistles that aren't obvious on your pay stubs or W-2s.

If you don't get approved for the amount you want, consider that you may be getting approved for the amount you need to buy a house you can actually afford.

Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers