April 11, 2024

A Guide for Self-Employed Contractors in Ontario Looking To Get A Mortgage

A Guide for Self-Employed Contractors in Ontario Looking To Get A Mortgage

Share this article:

bathroom renovation

Self-Employed Mortgages For Contractors

Obtaining a mortgage as a self-employed contractor in Ontario can often feel like navigating a complex maze. Unlike traditional employees with steady paychecks, self-employed individuals face unique challenges that can make securing a mortgage seem daunting. This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process and provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully secure a mortgage.

Understanding the Mortgage Landscape for Self-Employed Contractors in Ontario

Who is Considered a Self-Employed Contractor?

In Ontario, a self-employed contractor is typically an individual who operates their own business or provides services to different businesses without being an employee of any. These professionals can range from plumbers and electricians to freelance graphic designers and IT consultants. Unlike regular employees, self-employed contractors do not receive regular paychecks and often have variable income streams.

Why is Getting a Mortgage Different for Self-Employed Contractors?

For self-employed contractors, proving a stable income to a lender can be challenging. Most lenders require two years of consistent income history, evidenced through Notice of Assessments (NOAs) and financial statements. Additionally, many self-employed individuals maximize tax deductions, which while beneficial for reducing tax liabilities, can unfortunately decrease the reported income, making them less appealing to traditional lenders.

Preparing to Apply for a Mortgage as a Self-Employed Contractor

Essential Documentation for Self-Employed Contractors

When preparing to apply for a mortgage, the following documents are typically required:

  • Personal identification: Valid government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
  • Two years of tax returns (T1 General) and the associated Notice of Assessments (NOAs): These documents provide proof of income and are essential for lenders to assess your financial stability.
  • Financial statements for your business: This includes income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. These documents provide a clear picture of your business’s financial health.
  • Proof of self-employment: If you operate as a sole proprietor, you may need to provide a business license. If you have incorporated your business, you’ll need to provide articles of incorporation.
  • Recent invoices or contracts: These help demonstrate your current active business activity and provide evidence of ongoing income streams.

Organizing these documents in a clear and professional manner can significantly enhance your application’s credibility.

Assessing Your Financial Health

Understanding and improving your financial health is crucial when applying for a mortgage. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Credit Score: Your credit score plays a significant role in mortgage approval. Aim for a credit score above 680, as this is generally considered good. Take steps to improve your credit score by paying bills on time and reducing outstanding debts.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: This ratio compares your total debt load to your income. Lenders use this to assess your ability to manage mortgage payments alongside other financial obligations. Aim for a debt-to-income ratio below 40% to increase your chances of mortgage approval.

Mortgage Options Available to Self-Employed Contractors in Ontario

Conventional Mortgages vs. Non-Conventional Loans

When it comes to mortgage options, self-employed contractors can choose between conventional mortgages and non-conventional loans:

  • Conventional Mortgages: These mortgages are offered by traditional lenders such as banks and credit unions. They typically require a higher down payment, come with stricter income documentation rules, and have more favorable interest rates and terms. However, they may be more challenging to qualify for as a self-employed contractor.
  • Non-Conventional Loans: Also known as alternative or stated-income loans, these loans are designed for individuals who have difficulty providing traditional income verification. Non-conventional loans may have more flexible terms, but they often come with higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk to the lender.

Government Programs and Incentives

In addition to conventional and non-conventional options, self-employed contractors in Ontario might be eligible for government programs and incentives. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers programs that allow for alternative proof of income, which can be beneficial for contractors. These programs help self-employed individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment and more flexible income documentation requirements. It’s worth exploring these programs to determine if you qualify for any additional support.

Steps to Apply for a Mortgage as a Self-Employed Contractor in Ontario

Choosing the Right Lender

Selecting the right lender or mortgage broker is crucial for self-employed contractors. Look for institutions that specialize in or are familiar with self-employed lending. They will have a better understanding of your unique situation and can offer more tailored products. Consider working with a mortgage broker who has experience helping self-employed individuals navigate the mortgage process. A broker can access a wide range of lenders and help you find the best mortgage terms and rates based on your specific needs.

The Application Process Explained

The mortgage application process for self-employed contractors is similar to that of traditional employees, but there are a few key differences. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved:

  1. Pre-Approval: Before you start house hunting, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This involves providing your financial information to a lender or mortgage broker who will assess your financial situation and determine the maximum amount you can borrow. Pre-approval gives you a clear understanding of your budget and strengthens your position when making an offer on a property.
  2. Application Submission: Once you’ve found a property and are ready to proceed with a mortgage, you’ll need to submit a formal mortgage application. This involves providing detailed information about your financial situation, including your income, assets, and liabilities. You’ll also need to provide the necessary documentation, such as tax returns, financial statements, and proof of self-employment.
  3. Underwriting Process: The lender will review your application and documents, verifying your income, credit history, and other factors. They may request additional documentation or clarification during this stage. It’s important to respond promptly to any requests to ensure a smooth underwriting process.
  4. Approval and Closing: If your application is approved, you will receive a mortgage commitment letter outlining the terms and conditions of the loan. This includes the interest rate, repayment schedule, and any conditions that need to be met before closing. The closing process involves signing the necessary legal documents and transferring funds to complete the purchase of the property.

Strategies to Enhance Mortgage Approval Chances

Improving Financial Stability

To enhance your chances of mortgage approval, consider the following strategies:

  • Regularize Income: If your income fluctuates, consider utilizing tools like income averaging. This involves setting aside a portion of your earnings during high-income periods to help stabilize your reported income. Lenders may also consider grossing up your income, which means they will factor in a higher income based on your gross deposits rather than your net income after deductions.
  • Reduce Liabilities: Paying down debts can improve your debt-to-income ratio, making you a more attractive borrower. Focus on reducing high-interest debts and keeping credit card balances low. Consider consolidating debts or refinancing existing loans to improve your overall financial picture.

Leveraging Professional Advice

Engaging with a mortgage broker who specializes in self-employed financing can provide you with the expertise needed to navigate this complex area. They can offer strategies and insights that are not readily apparent. A professional advisor can help you understand the income verification process, explore alternative lending options, and maximize your mortgage affordability. They have access to a wide range of lenders and can help you find the best mortgage terms and rates based on your specific needs.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Real-life examples can provide valuable insights into the mortgage journey of self-employed contractors. Consider the story of John Doe, a freelance software developer, who successfully secured a mortgage after being initially rejected. By working with a specialized broker, he restructured his financial documentation, highlighting ongoing contracts and stabilizing his income through a blend of retainer and project-based payments. This case study demonstrates the importance of seeking professional guidance and exploring alternative income verification methods.


Securing a mortgage as a self-employed contractor in Ontario comes with its set of challenges, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it is entirely achievable. By understanding the unique requirements, organizing your finances, and exploring the various mortgage options available, you can navigate the mortgage maze with confidence. Remember, each situation is unique, and leveraging professional advice can often make a substantial difference.

At Everything Mortgages, we strive to help first-time homebuyers, small business owners, and hardworking professionals navigate their mortgage journeys. Whether it’s securing a loan or seeking better solutions, our team is here to guide you toward becoming mortgage-free sooner and building wealth faster. Reach out to us today to explore these strategies and more.

Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a financial advisor or mortgage professional before making decisions about your mortgage.

Get more homeowner tips

Subscribe to get more homeowner tips and advice delivered right to your inbox.


More Great Reads