While unemployment peaked over 13% at the onset, it’s hard to quantify just how many Canadians had some form of a reduction in their income over the last year. Especially if you’re self-employed or your income varies year to year because you receive a bonus, pick up shifts, freelance, or you earn income that isn’t guaranteed.
If you earn variable income, and you’ve seen a reduction in income because of the pandemic, this has the potential to impact how much mortgage you qualify for up to the next three years.
Here’s why. For income that isn’t guaranteed, when assessing your mortgage application, most of the time, lenders will look at a 2-year average. So let’s say you’re looking to secure a mortgage now in 2020, the lender will want to see documentation proving what you earned in 2018 and 2019, and they will take a 2-year average.
If your income is lower in 2020 because of the pandemic, once we come to tax time in 2021, your 2-year average will now include that reduction in revenue for the next couple of years, even if you are back to making what you did pre-pandemic. It will be the same case in 2022 (and into 2023), as any lender will want to see your 2-year average between 2020 and 2021. Less income in 2020 could mean qualifying for a lower mortgage amount over the next few years.
The advantage of working with an independent mortgage professional is the ability we have to represent you to several lenders who all offer different products and have different guidelines. So while one lender might be hard and fast on the 2-year average, depending on your industry, another lender might make an exception.
Additionally, depending on where the housing market is at and how much the economy has rebounded in 2021, lenders might consider COVID-19 and be flexible or implement amended guidelines. However, we will have to wait and see on that. But for the most part, if your income is lower because of COVID, it will impact you going forward, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or hear anything in the news that you’d like clarified.
So what can you do about this today? Well, if you’re currently looking to purchase a property or you have a mortgage that’s almost up for renewal, or if you’d like to refinance before 2021, it’s definitely in your best interest to talk with an independent mortgage professional about all your options as soon as possible.
Alternatively, if you’re not looking to secure a mortgage right now, it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place for when you do. It never hurts to plan ahead, especially when you have time and can make up some of the lost income with additional income in the future.
If you’d like to discuss your financial situation and see exactly how your income impacts your mortgage qualification, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime, I would love to work through everything with you!