Mortgage options for self-employed professionals

Can you get a mortgage if you are self-employed and just started out on your own? Absolutely, if you ask De Hypotheker’s Marcel Snoek. For a very long time, new entrepreneurs struggled to get a mortgage. But now even people who have been in business for less than three years can land one relatively easily. Read more to find out what mortgage options there are for starting zzp'ers.

New entrepreneurs often have to grapple with some degree of financial uncertainty, as you will often have to make significant investments at first and your income might not be as high as it will be. As a result, mortgage lenders used to be reluctant to provide mortgages to self-employed people, requiring at least three years’ worth of good earnings. Mortgage advisor Marcel Soek explains what has changed in the mortgage market and why even new entrepreneurs can still get a mortgage. 

Changes in the mortgage market 

"In recent years, the market has been changing", Soek begins, "with more and more lenders expressly targeting entrepreneurs. Some lenders, for example, have started using employment income from the past to determine a qualifying income for new entrepreneurs." Soek adds that the Nationale Hypotheekgarantie (NHG, National Mortgage Guarantee), which supports lenders in providing mortgages to entrepreneurs, has been a great help. "Banks are aligning their policies with those of the NHG." 

More possibilities

For new entrepreneurs, applying for a mortgage remains tricky. After all, you have to be able to prove that your business is making money now and will continue to do so in the future, which is almost impossible if you have only just started out. To qualify for a mortgage from a bank, your business will usually have to be at least 1 year old. And if you have been in business for less than 3 years, your qualifying income may not count in full.

If you have been in business for less than 3 years, lenders will not always consider your full qualifying income.

SoekL: "Providers targeting entrepreneurs have in-house knowledge to help them analyse the annual figures published by small businesses. With providers who outsource such an analysis, it is often a standard process and customisation is not possible." 

When reviewing your application, a mortgage lender will look at, among other things: 

  • What industry you work in (due in part to the corona effect). 

  • Your fixed expenses. 

  • How much risk you take with your business. 

  • How your business and profits have developed. 

  • Your expectations for the future of your business. 

Mortgage amount 

When you start looking for a house, you generally want to know how much you can borrow. Salaried workers can use an online tool to get an idea of what they can borrow because their income is the same each month. For entrepreneurs, determining the so-called qualifying income is more complicated, because their income can fluctuate from month to month and year to year. 

More and more parties are targeting entrepreneurs.

Soek recommends consulting with an independent mortgage broker before starting your search. "You will have to sit down and talk to a mortgage adviser at some point anyway, so you might as well do it in advance. Besides, it can help stave off disappointment." 

Current housing market

It is important to know that mortgage lenders will only offer a mortgage up to the list price of the house, so you will need your own money to cover other costs. When buying a house, these extra costs are usually about 6% of the list price. In 2023, the average house price was €434,000 (in Dutch), which means you would have to save up about €26,000 yourself. 

Preparing your mortgage application 

It is important to look at every last detail when preparing your mortgage application, as you are basically trying to convince the bank that you can pay for your mortgage now and in the future. Soek: "Talk to your accountant, get your financial statements in order and review this year's figures. Your accountant can also help you draw up a forecast to give you a good idea of what lies ahead." 

KVK Insurance Check

Some insurances are required, others useful. Which ones do you need? The KVK Insurance Check helps you make the right choices when it comes to taking out insurance.

Mortgage with NHG 

Entrepreneurs also qualify for NHG mortgages, which are guaranteed to meet NIBUD’s responsible borrowing standards. Moreover, NHG mortgages provide you with insurance if you are unable to pay your mortgage due to unemployment, the end of a relationship or the loss of your partner. 

Entrepreneurs must have been in business for at least one year before they qualify for an NHG mortgage. Many mortgage providers have more lenient terms if you take out a mortgage with NHG, such as using 100% of your qualifying income to determine your maximum mortgage or only requiring a single financial statement instead of three. If you want an NHG mortgage, you will need to have an income statement prepared by an NHG-recognised agency. 

Income statement 

Mortgage lenders will usually ask you to provide an income statement. You can request these statements from specialised agencies. Important: Some banks only work with specific designated agencies that look at your financial statements and income tax returns to prepare your income statement.

When preparing the income statement, such an agency will base itself on your financial statements and income tax returns, among other things. Have you been in business for less than 3 years? Then it helps if you have previously done the work you are currently doing as an entrepreneur for an employer. They may then count previous employment income. For an NHG mortgage, your income statement should be no more than six months old. For other mortgages, the validity varies between providers.

The impact of a lower income

What if your income has taken a big dip due to the corona crisis? "That definitely affects how much you can borrow," Soek admits. "We do not know what will happen in the future. Banks are in the dark and want to prevent people from entering into obligations that they cannot fulfil. We talk to the applicant to get a better idea of their situation: how likely is it that they will start earning money again next year? You have to convince the bank that you are not a very risky proposition." 

Growing business 

Although many have struggled, some companies have gone from strength to strength. Most banks look at your average profit over the past few years, so just one very good year can still net you a higher mortgage if the bank decides to factor in growth potential and increase the weighting of more recent years. 

Example 

In your first year of self-employment, your profits totalled €25,000, in year 2, they grew to €35,000, before ballooning to €50,000 in year three. Normally, banks will average these three years, which boils down to €36,666. If they factor in growth potential, the first year may count once, the second year twice and the third year three times, resulting in a substantially higher qualifying income of €40,833. 

Borrowing money from your bv

Is your company a private limited company (bv)? Then you can also choose to borrow money from it. In that case, do familiarise yourself with the rules of the Tax Administration (in Dutch).

List of mortgage lenders 

Want to know which mortgage lenders provide most options for self-employed workers? In this list, you will also see whether the bank has a special calculator for entrepreneurs and how long you have to have been in business before qualifying for a mortgage. 

Mortgage providerMortgage from how many years as a businessCalculation tool (suitable) for entrepreneurs?
ABN AMRO1 yearYes
Aegon1 yearNo
Allianz1 yearNo
Argenta1 yearYes
ASN1 yearNo
a.s.r.1 yearNo
Attens Hypotheken1 yearNo
BLG Wonen1 yearNo
Florius1 yearYes
Hypotrust1 yearYes
ING1 yearNo
IQWOON3 yearsYes
Lloyds Bank2 yearsNo
Lot Hypotheken1 yearYes
Munt Hypotheken3 yearsYes
Nationale Nederlanden1 yearYes
NIBC Direct1 yearYes
Obvion1 yearYes
RabobankNo minimum, Rabobank looks at your personal situation No
RegioBank1 yearNo
Robuust Hypotheken1 yearYes
SNS Bank1 yearNo
Triodos3 yearsYes
Tulp Hypotheken1 yearNo
Woonfonds1 yearYes

 

The data in this table are based on the information found on the websites of the respective mortgage lenders.