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I Lost My Job Due to COVID-19. Can I Still Get a Mortgage?

[Updated: Jul 07, 2020 ] Mar 23, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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COVID-19 is battering the U.S. economy, with millions of Americans already out of work because of the crisis. That's bad news in general, but even worse news if you're about to apply for a mortgage or are in the process of finalizing one.

Can you apply for a mortgage without an income?

If you're applying jointly with another person, absolutely. There are plenty of scenarios where a couple applies for a mortgage where one works and the other doesn't, so this situation is no different. If you're applying jointly with a spouse, and you've lost your job but your partner has a steady income, there's a good chance you'll get approved.

The amount you're eligible to borrow, however, will generally be lower than the amount you'd be eligible for with a dual income. Therefore, while you may be able to get a loan, it may not be enough to buy the home you want.

What if you've lost your job mid-mortgage application?

If you had a job when you first applied for a mortgage but have since been laid off due to the impact of COVID-19, don't try to hide that from your lender. It's common practice for lenders to verify employment status prior to closing on a home loan, so you have nothing to gain by not coming clean.

In this situation, whether you're able to move forward with the mortgage application process will depend on whether you're applying solo or jointly with someone else, and what that person's income looks like. If you're applying on your own, you'll probably need to pause the process until you're employed again. If you're applying with a spouse and his or her income is enough to qualify for the amount you were previously approved to borrow, you're in good shape.

That said, one thing that's unique to the current climate is that many people are finding themselves out of work temporarily because their employers have shut down as part of the social distancing mandate. If that's the case, and you expect your job loss to be temporary in nature, talk to your lender and see what options you have. You may need to provide a letter from your employer explaining the circumstances involved, but you may be able to convince your lender to move things forward.

Whether that's a smart thing to do, though, is a different story. We don't know how long the current crisis is going to last and what economic repercussions it will have. Many experts are already predicting a full-blown recession, during which jobs can easily be lost. As such, you don't want to put yourself in a situation where you sign a mortgage and are liable for monthly payments on it, only to not actually get rehired as expected due to circumstances outside your control.

If you are forced to hit pause on your mortgage application due to your job circumstances, don't despair. There's a strong chance mortgage rates will drop in the coming months, as will home values, so if you hold off on buying right now, you could set yourself up to score a better deal down the line.

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