Successful Renovation Application But Oh What A Bumpy Ride...

For self-employed people, sometimes you need a creative solution to get that finance approval through.

Successful Renovation Application But Oh What A Bumpy Ride...
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It’s a tough gig to be self-employed.

I know from the outside in, people think it would be amazing to choose your own hours, deal only with who you want to and have control on where you want to take your business strategically. But the reality for most business owners is that money is tough for a long time, you end up working way more hours than when you were employed and you’ve still got to interact with people you don’t want to deal with.

When it comes to gaining finance as a business owner, unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier…

You could be employed for one day at a new job and still get a 95% LVR home loan, but if you haven’t run your business for more than two years, options are limited.

Of course, the reason why banks ask for two years’ worth of financials for a self-employed applicant is that they presume their income varies each year and want to see consistency across a number of years before granting approval.

Case in point, I recently completed an application for a client who ran a business where her 2017 tax returns were much better than her 2016 returns.   We also knew that her 2018 financials wouldn’t be as good as her 2017s as there were a number of expenses her accountant wanted to run through the business for that year.

For a self-employed applicant, the time of year you’re applying for a loan is very important. You see, we all know that the financial year runs from 1st July – 30th June. However, you don’t need to actually lodge your tax return until late March the following year.

Banks understand this and most have a cut-off point of 31st December as to when they will no longer accept the previous year’s tax return.

Back to my client:   We were applying for a significant renovation to her owner-occupied property - around $800K. The application was lodged in September 2018. This meant that the bank was still happy to take her 2017 tax returns but if the application dragged into January, they would require her 2018 return also.

Recapping, the accountant had done preliminary numbers for the 2018 tax year (which finished 30th June 2018) and we knew they weren’t going to be as strong as her 2017 returns due to the expenses he wanted to run through the business.

We were also aware that her 2016 returns weren’t as high as her 2017s so we took the application to a lender who could work off just the 2017s.

Of course, when it came to the construction application there were a number of delays. The DA approval took forever and the fixed price building contract did not have a funding schedule that the valuer was happy with.

I’ll deep dive into this another day but banks usually require a construction loan to be funded as follows:

  1.  5% - deposit
  2. 15% - slab
  3. 30% - frames & trusses
  4. 20% - brickwork
  5. 20% - internal linings
  6. 10% - practical completion

The above works perfect for a house & land package but for a renovation of an existing property, it just isn’t as simple for a builder to come up with a schedule as neat as that.

This meant that the valuer had a requirement for 10% of the build price ($80K in this case) to be held in trust for contingencies, and a Quantity Surveyor Report to also be completed. As this was a fixed price building contract, the client was not happy about the first requirement and she didn’t have the coin anyway.

So this meant we had to challenge the valuation, which for any broker reading this understands, it is nigh impossible. We were also heading into the last week of the calendar year so the pressure of getting the application approved in time was mounting.

Of course, I wouldn’t be pumping this article out if I didn’t get the approval but my two takeaways from this experience for readers are:

  1.  For self-employed people, there are many different ways to get the job done so always work with a finance professional who can find creative solutions for you.
  2. If you’re self-employed and doing a big renovation, give yourself heaps of time because there will always be unforeseen delays!


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