26 September 2019

Over a million self-employed believe they will never be able to own a home

By Mark Arnold
Chief Executive Officer of Kensington Mortgages
  • Two thirds (68%) of Britain’s self-employed workers are finding it difficult to get a mortgage
  • One in five (22% or 1.056m*) self-employed renters think that they will never be able to own a home, with high house prices outstripping earnings and sporadic income cited as main reasons
  • More than one quarter (27%) are so frustrated by mortgage difficulties that they are now actively considering giving up self-employed status to find a steady job instead 

London, 26 September 2019: More than a million self-employed people who do not currently own a home do not think they’ll be able to. A further 100,000** self-employed people in the UK are currently struggling to get a mortgage to own a home, according to new research findings from Kensington Mortgages, the specialist mortgage lender.

A survey of more than 2,500 self-employed Britons has revealed that more than two thirds (68%) of self-employed individuals feel disadvantaged by their “self-employed status” when trying to get a mortgage. Additionally, almost half (48%) felt the perceived or actual difficulty they experienced during the mortgage process had put them off being self-employed.

More than one quarter (27%) of the self-employed Britons surveyed who are currently seeking a mortgage have experienced such a degree of difficulty in finding a mortgage that they are now actively considering giving up self-employed status to find a steady job instead.

There are 4.8 million self-employed individuals in the UK, meaning that this cohort of individuals are a large contender within the mortgage market. Last year, self-employed workers contributed £275bn to the UK economy***. Despite their importance, many still feel penalised when it comes to accessing certain financial products due to inflexible lending criteria used by high-street lenders. 

Data from Kensington’s Kensington Affordability Tracker (KAT), launched on a quarterly basis, has shown that, based on mortgage application data, self-employed mortgage borrowers are a safer bet than first-time buyers. The analysis for this year’s second quarter revealed that self-employed borrowers are more conservative than first-time buyers and typically borrow much less than borrowers would permit.

The average self-employed mortgage customer in the UK took out a mortgage that was 28% less than the maximum possible sum that could be borrowed. By contrast, the average first-time buyer, meanwhile, borrowed 19% below the maximum possible sum that could have been loaned. First-time buyers in the South East took out loans to the maximum of their borrowing limit (after applying standard stress modelling to ensure customer affordability), with no room to borrow more.

Commenting on the research, Mark Arnold, Chief Executive of Kensington Mortgages, said:

“Historically the self-employed community have struggled with many more barriers to getting a mortgage – for example having to provide statements from auditors, tax returns and numerous years’ worth of trading history. There is also a perception, as our research shows, that it is difficult to get on the property ladder if you are self-employed. However, this is valid, seeing that over a third of self-employed workers had been rejected by a high-street lender on application.”

“Traditionally, the self-employed have been viewed as being more risky. Based on our KAT analysis - we know they’re not. The typical building contractor, freelance management consultant, self-employed architect or graphic designer knows that it pays to be conservative."

As a group, the self-employed tend to be more cautious, better savers and a smaller risk to a mortgage lender than being a fully employed person. We’ve found that your average self-employed individual has six months’ worth of savings, relative to full time employees, who tend to only have one month’s savings."

“More in control of their destiny, as they can’t be made redundant; they have more options to try and stay solvent. It shouldn’t be harder to get a self-employed mortgage, but you do need a good broker to point you in the right direction and talk you through the options.”

To view the Kensington Affordability Tracker Q2 2019 click here. 


* 22% of 4.8 million self-employed is 1.056 million.

**4.8 million self-employed in the UK; 3% are looking to buy a home; 68% of those are finding it difficult = 97,920 self-employed are finding it difficult to get a mortgage

*** IPSE Self-Employment in the Modern Economy 2018 Report 


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