Buying a New Build property – 10 Top Tips for Contractors

Last Updated: 19-12-2020

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Buying a home as a contractor can be an exhilarating trip. Even more so when that home is a new-build property.

There’s excitement, expectation and, of course, dread. You’ll be the first person to ever live under that roof, more often than not*.You need assurance that everything — including your mortgage offer — has a solid foundation. You deserve no less: 100% confidence in your mortgage completing when your home’s ready.

But we’re finding that’s not the reality of what’s happening on the High Street. Mortgage advisers are turning contractors away because they can’t work out their payment structure. Often, it’s just as the developers are applying the finishing touches to their new home.

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The ride ends with our clients’ rollercoaster derailed. It’s confusing, demoralising and often ends in tears. Worse still, it can prove an expensive exercise.

Make sure your mortgage adviser understands your payment structure. Moreover, that they know how to package a mortgage application to reflect contract earnings.

We can’t help you with the bricks and mortar. As specialist mortgage brokers, we’ll leave hard hats and strutting to the adverts.

Where we can help is with arranging the mortgage loan to help you get onto the property ladder.

You’re not bound by a developer’s choice. You don’t have to use accounts and pay-slips to prove your affordability.

We’ll arrange your mortgage using your gross contractual income. Moreover, you won’t need to find the eye-watering deposits many new-build mortgage lenders demand.

10%. That’s all we’re asking via an unprecedented deal. And it’s with one of the longest-standing mortgage lenders on the High Street!

How to make buying a new-build a smooth ride for contractors

New Home Key Shows Moving Into HouseFor a contractor, new-build mortgages conceal all manner of hidden surprises. If you don’t know the lie of the land, few are pleasant, with pitfalls a plenty.

We need to prepare you for your journey into comparative darkness.

So herewith, our 10 top tips to ensure that when your home’s built, your mortgage funds are ready at the same time.

1. Don’t settle for less than your income deserves

Many of the mortgage lenders entwined with builders and developers aren’t contractor-friendly. By that, we mean they don’t know how to assess your affordability using your contract rate.

Instead, they’ll try to work out how much you can borrow based on your accounts. As a limited company contractor, that’s going to hurt. After your accountant’s worked their magic, you’ll find your annual ‘income’ decimated.

Now here’s what you need to understand about lenders who provide genuine contractor mortgages. Most do so only through appointed mortgage brokers.

That’s because specialist mortgage brokers know how contracting works. Thus, they can then highlight your true affordability on your mortgage application.

Don’t ever confuse a self-employed mortgage for a contractor mortgage; they’re not the same.

2. Limited access to the marketplace

In a similar vein, trying to get a mortgage using your contract limits your options. It’s not just a case of a lower mortgage offer. Some lenders won’t offer you a mortgage at all.

The problem, besides the obvious?

As a contractor, in branch staff may well mark your mortgage application as high risk. But you won’t know that at the time. They may even have offered you a decision in principle based on your earning capacity.

But as your contract is short-term, an underwriter unfamiliar with contracting may reject it. You’ll only get to know that sometime after an in-branch advisor’s sent it to head office.

Again, rejection like this can tug both your heart- and purse strings. Make sure your mortgage lender or mortgage broker has comprehensive knowledge of contract-based underwriting.

3. Deposits: no flat rate

In the main, new-builds attract larger deposits than for existing properties. For flats, expect to have to find 25% and for houses 20%.

The theory behind this stance is simple. Lenders believe that those buying brand new properties are willing to pay premium rates.

There was a time when investing in property was ‘as safe as houses’. But today, a brand new home can devalue the moment you get the keys, just like a new car.

A bigger deposit protects lenders from this phenomenon. It gives them a plumper cushion if you can’t keep up the monthly payments.

We are among only a select few mortgage brokers to have access to new build mortgages with only 10% deposit. That’s for either a home or a flat.

4. What’s a new build when it’s not a new-build?

There’s then an even deeper issue that affects all homebuyers, not just contractors. No two mortgage lenders take the same approach to new build mortgages full stop. They can have different, yet distinct, interpretations of new-build.

For some, the term means a brand new home either in construction or one in which no one’s yet lived. Others deem a new build any property built in the last 5 years, irrespective of occupancy.

Another anomaly is building conversions. Some class older buildings developers have converted into flats or homes as new build.

As a #contractor, in branch staff may well mark your #mortgage application as high risk Click To Tweet

5. Dangling carrots: avoid them if they smell rotten

In an ideal world, developers want the houses sold before they complete building them. To that end, you must beware of dubious tactics on site to get you to part with your cash.

Incentives are one such carrot you may see a-dangling. But beware. Some are bona fide. Others aren’t altogether wholesome.

One developer will offer an incentive in one hand, but take it away with the other. ‘Cashback’ is a perfect example. Here’s what I mean…

6. The Cashback Catch

…developers or lenders look to entice buyers with 10% cashback incentives. But the deal may mean you can only borrow 90% of the value after your deposit. That leaves you looking for an unexpected 10% when you’ve already maxed out your credit.

Here’s how this scenario could play out if you’re not careful. Imagine your new build property will cost you £200,000 upon completion.

Through us, you could get that mortgage with only 10% deposit. That means the balance of your mortgage is £180,000. And that’s it; no ‘cashback’. A straightforward mortgage so you know where you stand, which we like.

Now here’s the same situation, but with a 10% cashback deal.

The cost of your home is still £200,000, but the effect of the cashback means it’s worth £180,000.

Statute dictates that mortgage lenders must implement responsible lending guidelines. This being so, they may only offer you a 90% LTV mortgage on that £180,000.

7. Watch out for completion deadlines

A lot can happen in six months, especially for contractors. But it’s not your contract we’re concerned about here. Rather, it’s the maximum duration of a new build mortgage offer that could sting you.

If your new home isn’t planned for completion within six months, you’re limited further. Most High Street lenders restrict their mortgage offers to six months.

With our connections, we can get extended completion deadlines for new builds. And the even better news? That’s still with the mortgage lender who asks for only 10% deposit.

We are among only a select few brokers to have access to new builds with only 10% deposit Click To Tweet

8 Do you have reservations?

Affordable housing is a huge hot potato in parliament, often delegated to local councils. The responsibility of housing local residents is likewise an issue devolved to borough councils.

Section 106 even encourages developers to build affordable housing and house local residents. Yet some lenders get cold feet if the home you want to buy is in the vicinity of either.

Both Halifax and Leeds have open minds where Section 106 restrictions are in place. The two contractor-friendly lenders will consider new-build mortgages, where other lenders are inflexible.

Contractors should contact the local council to check what government schemes are available. Help to Buy Equity loan and shared ownership may be available in the locale.

9. Halifax again rises to the occasion

In big cities, land comes at a premium. When there’s no ground left to build on, the only way is up.

You only have to look across any city skyline to see it pockmarked by high rise flats and apartments. In many instances, you’ll see cranes too, heralding more blocks on the way.

Yet building homes in such close proximity deters many mortgage lenders. They limit the number of storeys against which they’ll offer new build mortgages.

Halifax will consider a contractor’s mortgage application for a high rise flat, on condition. That being that a surveyor’s appraisal must be positive in their assessment report.

Other contractor-friendly lenders are adopting this approach, too. If your new-build flat is one of many storeys, make sure that the lender you approach is okay with this.

10 Lender limitation rule to development block exposure

You know the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Well, our last tip for contractors looking to buy a new build is along those lines.

Many lenders restrict their lending per development block. They’ll approve no more mortgages if they’re lending against 25% of the block already.

If you’re one of the last to buy there, you may find your mortgage options limited further.

And do be careful. Developers know this and may try to sell the last few unoccupied flats at a discount. If such a discount tempts you, do your homework before signing on the dotted line. Get a firm mortgage offer, not just a decision in principle.

As an option, we have contractor-friendly lenders in our arsenal who have no such rule. They set no limit on the amount of plots per development they’ll lend against.

And that’s it — ten tips that will help protect you in your hunt for a new build home.

Always remember: you’re a contractor earning good money. Don’t let developers boss you around. Don’t settle for a mortgage lender pushing you down the self-employed route.

You can buy a new build home and by using your contract rate. Don’t settle for anything less.

Author: John Yerou

John Yerou is a pioneer of contractor mortgages and owner and founder of Freelancer Financials, Contractor Mortgages®, C&F Mortgages and Self Employed Mortgages, trading styles and brands of the award-winning Mortgage Quest Ltd.

Posted by John Yerou

on November 21st, 2016 19:38pm in Mortgage Blog.