Buying a home is a major life decision. Not only is your home the place where you’ll spend a large amount of your time—and maybe even more time as the work-from-home trend continues—buying a home is a large financial investment.

As a result, homebuyers typically need a mortgage from a bank or other financial institution to supplement any cash they’re using for a down payment. Interest on this mortgage adds to the total of what you’re ultimately paying for the home over time.

One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is all-time low mortgage rates. In May of 2000, 30-year fixed rate mortgages through government-sponsored lender Freddie Mac reached their most recent peak at 8.64%. Rates have declined relatively steadily over the last 20 years and have now hit all-time lows, dipping below 3% for the first time ever in July 2020.

Unfortunately, even though rates have come down since the COVID-19 pandemic set in, self-employed individuals and small business owners all over the country are now facing increased obstacles when it comes to applying for a mortgage.

What do mortgage lenders look for?

When applying for a mortgage—whether you’re self-employed or a W-2 employee—lenders want to make sure you are someone who will make consistent payments toward paying off the loan. Lenders want to ensure applicants have a good credit history, sufficient liquid assets available, a history of stable employment, and a low debt-to-income ratio.

To assess creditworthiness, mortgage lenders require borrowers to submit federal income tax returns from the last two years as well as recent pay stubs to ensure you have a steady income stream. However, because most self-employed people don’t receive pay stubs, they need to provide other documentation to prove financial stability.

What do self-employed individuals need to provide when applying for a mortgage?

Historically, most mortgage lenders required self-employed individuals to provide a two-year history of self-employment earnings to ensure that that income was stable and that the business (whether it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation) was currently operating.

Now, in the COVID-era, mortgage lenders are requiring self-employed individuals to also supply a year-to-date profit and loss statement as well as at least two recent months of business bank statements.

Can self-employed individuals qualify for mortgages?

Yes, and—like with anyone else—if you have documented proof of good credit history, available liquid assets, history of stable employment, a low debt-to-income ratio, and patience with paperwork, receiving a mortgage loan can be just as straightforward for a self-employed person.

Can 15 West Homes help you apply for a mortgage?

There are lenders that actually specialize in helping self-employed individuals get a mortgage with a competitive rate. Please reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to pass along names and contact information to you. It’s always good to talk to a couple lenders as you begin the process.

Many of you may remember my post from a little over a year ago in which I introduced you to Birchwood at Brambleton, an “active adult” community for the 55+ set, nestled into the southeast corner of the award-winning master planned community of Brambleton in Loudoun County.

I’ve been a big fan of this neighborhood, in addition to the range of home styles, ever since I’ve visited. While there were initially three builders offering different home styles and floor plans, one (Miller and Smith) quickly sold out of their small number of lots. Both Van Metre and Tri Point Homes (formerly known as Winchester) continue to build, but lots for new homes have been selling faster than anticipated throughout the pandemic. And prices continue to go up, so if you’re interested in this community, you really owe it to yourself to take a look. (Give us a call, and we will set up an appointment and confirm current incentives.)

Van-Metre-home-Birchwood-at-Brambleton

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Birchwood at Brambleton Offers a Community Feel with Plenty to Do

I started working with a client right at the beginning of the pandemic last March, and after one weekend of looking at homes, she was sold on Birchwood, with all its amenities, great location, and close-knit community feel. It’s easy to meet people here, as everyone I’ve met is very friendly and looking to interact with neighbors (although, like other places, that’s limited now during the pandemic!). When things are able to get back to a more “normal” routine, you can expect to find things like cooking demos, wine tastings, live music, and other events available to residents each week. Plus, the gorgeous multi-level Clubhouse (shown at the top of this post) with soaring ceilings and walls of windows offers plenty of lounging space, work space, billiards, an indoor pool, workout rooms, a theater area for movies, an art studio, and a golf simulation area. Outside you’ll find pickle ball courts, an outdoor pool, fire pits, and decking overlooking the lake. There are plenty of walking trails, too.

Plans for Future Development of this Popular Community

Birchwood at Brambleton has plans to continue development on the eastern side of Loudoun County Parkway as well (right now there are just apartments). However, the developer has not yet released the lots to specific builders, and Van Metre was unsure of the exact timetable for that. There will be another Clubhouse on this eastern side (albeit smaller).

Single-family-interior-Van-Metre-Views

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Current Inventory of Lots is Going Fast

Let me give you an update on what is still available in the way of new construction on the western side. (Of course, I can also help you with resales, although those are pretty limited in this new community at this time.) As I said, property values here continue to appreciate. For example, the base price of the 2-level Van Metre Towne home my client put a contract on back in late March of 2020 has already gone up $40,000 since then. With limited supply of new construction in active adult communities, the demand for homes in Birchwood will continue to outpace supply, making it a good long-term investment.

Two Builders Give You a Huge Range of Home Styles and Floor Plans

Van Metre offers the widest range of home styles, from one-level condos to various 2- and 4-story townhomes (some with elevators) to 3-level single family homes. A new series of condos, called “The Rise,” with parking spaces more accessible to owners’ individual units, has just been released for sale. Tri Point Homes offers two styles of attached homes, the Bungalows with three levels of living and the Carriages with two levels (no basement). As you would expect in a 55+ community, there are floor plans from each builder offering main level Primary Bedrooms and Baths, and there are multiple options for customization for each style of home. Both of these builders very much let you make your home your own, based on how you live. There are some really cool outdoor living features offered as well, including covered decks, 3-season rooms, and rooftop terraces like the one below.

Rooftop-terrace-Van-Metre-Birchwood-at-Brambleton

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Options Fit a Range of Size Preferences and Budgets

Square footage can range all the way up to about 4,000 square feet of living space in the single family Van Metre homes, and base prices run the gamut as well, depending on the style of home (condos start in the mid-$300s). Currently, the model home of the gorgeous Van Metre Towne “Bernstein” floor plan (the same floor plan my client purchased) with a Primary Bedroom on the Main Level, is for sale at $839,990 (Great Room shown below). Obviously, being the model, it has a ton of structural and design upgrades including an interior brick wall, a gourmet kitchen, and an expanded floor plan offering 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Bernstein-model-Van-Metre

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

While I’m not at all surprised about the success of this neighborhood, there’s a new sense of urgency if you’re interested. Give Karen (703-585-3386) or Maggie (703-531-7363) a call if you’d like to preview the various home styles. Everything is by appointment only right now, and we can help you negotiate the best incentives from structural or design upgrades to closing costs.