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Mortgage

What Are Your Options When You Have No Standard Income Documents

If you are scrambling for alternative documentation to prove your income to a home loan lender, then it’s most like that you either have your income documentation rejected or have no standard income documentation that a bank requires for underwriting.

Don’t worry. You are not alone.

A lot of home buyers applying for a new loan or home owners who are refinancing their existing loans often face this problem of proving their household income to lenders.

The reason why verified income is critical in the home loan process is that it factors into debt ratios and TDSR. This can affect the approved loan quantum that would be eventually approved by the lender.

To put it simply, the higher personal income there is that is verified by a lender’s list of accepted documents, the better the chances of obtaining the requested loan amount by the borrower.

Somewhere along the process of conceptualizing mortgage assessment processes, the consensus has come up with a pretty similar set of income documents that are generally accepted as proof of income.

There are 3 basic standard documents that credit analyst take at face value. And loan applicants are seldom questioned about the authenticity of them as long as they are presented to the loan officer.

And if the borrower don’t have them, have truncated copies of them, or have them but they don’t show sufficient income for the requested loan amount, then alternative income documents might be requested.

Either that, or a borrower should be pro-active in providing them to aid his case.

Standard income documents

As mentioned earlier, standard income documents are often listed by lenders as required essential paperwork that has to be submitted for loan assessment.

If an applicant is able to furnish them, that would usually be the end of it. With exceptions mentioned previously.

CPF contribution statement

Anyone with a CPF account would be required to submit his or he CPF contribution statement that shows transactions within the most recent 12 months.

This is partly to discover a person’s salary and job stability. Job changes, which would mean a change in employer would be indicated in this statement.

Because the contributed amount towards CPF is determined by a very specific set of criteria, knowing the age and contributed amount would be enough for a banker to calculate what is the gross monthly income of each individual applicant.

However, an issue that might arise is that there is a maximum limit to the monthly contributed amount towards CPF.

So CPF contributions might not indicate an accurate reflection of what some people are actually drawing for their salary.

This is when other documents will be helpful.

The CPF contribution can be generated and downloaded from the CPF website with SINGPASS.

Computerizes pay slips

The computerized pay slip is another standard income document that validates a person’s income.

These are pay stub reports that are generated by credible software and lenders often take them at face value.

But the requirements are not standardized among all banks.

Some banks only require a salary pay slip for the latest month, some might demand pay slips for the most recent 3 months, while other might only accept all from the past 6 months.

The pay slip would show how much an employee is actually being paid, plus allowances that can boost the qualifying income.

You should be able obtain copies of your computerised payslips from your HR department.

Income tax statement

To reinforce the findings from the above two documentation, the income tax statements issued by IRAS to the individual borrowers will be required.

Some lenders only need the notice of assessment (NOA) for the latest year, while others might request them for the most recent two years.

The NOA would also show annual bonuses an applicant has received which might be missing from the pay slips. This also helps to boost qualifying income.

Housing loan applicants who are self-employed will usually have the NOA as the main income document, and might even be requested to provide them for the most recent 3 years.

It must be noted that self-employed home loan applicants will have their personal incomes discounted. So one might have to explore the possibility of including income-boosting documents in the application submission which would be explained later.

Your NOA can be accessed via IRAS website with SINGPASS.

Alternative income documents

When a mortgage borrower do not have the above stated standard income documents, have them rejected by the bank, or have them but they do not do enough to proof a required income for the requested loan amount, then alternative income documents are absolutely essential for a home loan to be approved.

No one can get a regular home loan if he or she cannot prove an income declaration. And you really cannot expect a lender to take an applicant’s word for it.

Employment contract

For someone who has newly entered the Singapore workforce, he or she might not have the standard income paperwork.

Either that, or that they are available, but don’t contain any material information about their current income.

This can often happen when:

  • A young adult has just entered the workforce
  • A foreigner who has just joined the local workforce
  • Someone has been unemployed for a while and only recently got hired for a new job
  • etc

In such cases, then the employment contract can be taken into account for personal income.

In order for such contracts to be accepted by lenders, they should:

  • Be printed on a company letter head
  • Contain the date of letter and commencement date of employment
  • Contain full name of applicant with identification number
  • Contain salary information
  • Be signed by both the employee and representative of the employer
  • Contain company stamp

When we consider the avalanche of standard income documents, it’s such an irony that a simple employment contract can replace all of them as an alternative.

Bank statements

A personal bank statement might be requested as proof of income when an applicant collects salary in cash.

While this is not an efficient way to judge a person’s salary as not everyone deposits every dollar they receive into their bank accounts, there is probably no better alternative when applicants receive their salaries this way.

In such cases, the best representative of a person’s salary would be accompanied by payment vouchers issues by the employer, and the payment amounts written on the vouchers match up with deposits into the personal bank account.

But as everybody probably know, this is a very difficult scenario to see in real life practice.

So lenders might be lenient towards these income-proof documents.

Foreign employment income

When an applicant is working overseas and receives an income that is overseas based, the situation can get much more tricky.

The bank might request for employment contracts, income tax statement of declaration of the country, personal bank statements, etc.

The process can often be much simpler if the employer is a Singapore multi-national company or an internationally recognized corporation. This would be indicated in the employment contract and computerised pay stubs.

When the salary is in foreign currency, then of course it would be converted to Singapore dollars.

Documents that boost qualifying income

As mentioned earlier, the qualifying income is the focus here as it plays a primary role in the lender’s assessment for loan amount… only limited by loan to value.

If the qualifying income is not sufficient to support the requested loan amount either due to too much debt or to low an income, then other measures can be taken to boost your qualifying income.

Tenancy agreement

This would be most relevant for real estate investors and landlords.

But more and more Singaporeans are becoming landlords themselves as they purchased HDB flats decades ago and have moved to new private property homes while keeping the old ones for passive rental income.

A tenancy agreement can go a long way towards increasing a home mortgage applicant’s qualifying income.

It must be accompanied by proper stamp duties to be accepted.

Housing allowances

If your employer is giving you housing allowance, it make logical sense that you should include this information in your application accompanied by proof.

In some cases, other types of allowances can even be considered by a lenders as income.

This really depends on the internal credit policies of the lender.

Alimony

If you are receiving regular payments from a divorced ex-spouse, do include this information if the basic income documents are not sufficient to obtain your requested loan.

Just know that you might be requested to provide copies of court documents.

What if you don’t have any of the standard and alternative income documents?

Before anyone laughs at this scenario, this things do happen.

In this case, you might have to go through a different category of home loan assessment and underwriting criteria.

One of which is asset-based lending (ABL). ABL is actually very common with commercial properties and corporate lending.

These are the types of loans whereby a lender can approve a loan quantum for a borrower just from the borrower showing proof that he or she owns a certain amount of assets.

And often times, the bank would want the applicant to deposit a certain amount of funds into a time deposit account (fixed deposit) for a certain period of time (usually at least 6 months).

In essence, the borrower would deposit an amount of savings into an account with the lender, and the lender would approve the required loan amount.

However, a lot of borrowers who are presenting with these choices ask the basic question of why would anyone want to get a mortgage when they are already cash rich?

The simple answer is leverage and cash flow.

Finally, if you are facing challenges or questions with income documents, you can easily contact us from our home page.

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Want to see housing loan interest rate trends for the last 36 months?

Enter your email below so we can send it to you.

It makes absolutely no sense to pay more
than you have to on a home loan.

Find the best mortgage rates here
SEE RATES
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It makes absolutely no sense to pay more than you have to on a home loan.

Find the best mortgage rates here
VIEW TODAY'S RATES
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