ANGEL CUTSHALL | Jacksonville Real Estate, Mandarin Real Estate, Ponte Vedra Beach Real Estate


As the workforce changes and a growing number of companies seek out contractors and freelancers, many Americans find themselves in a gray area when it comes to their income. They may put in full-time hours, but on their taxes they work for themselves.

Mortgage lenders are cautious about who they lend to. They want to make sure you are a low-risk investment who has reliable, predictable income to ensure that they’ll earn money off of your loan.

This can sometimes make it difficult for freelancers, contract workers, or the self-employed. Not only might your taxes be unconventional, but your income could vary depending on the time of the year and the amount of business you receive.

It’s easy to see why many people would be anxious about applying for a mortgage under these circumstances. However, if you’re self-employed, there’s no need to worry. You can still get approved for a mortgage at a fair interest rate--you just need to do a bit of work to provide the right documents to your lender.

In this article, we’ll show you what documents and proof of income you’ll likely need and how to present it to a lender to make the process run as smoothly as possible to get you approved for your mortgage. Here’s what you need to do.

Organize your records

Before applying for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to take a look at your record-keeping process. As a self-employed worker, you’re probably already used to tracking your own income. However, this will help the lender analyze your income easier and move the process along more quickly.

Having a master spreadsheet of your dated invoices, paid amounts, and the names of your clients is a good place to start. You’ll also want detailed, easy to read information for your previous employers, landlords, references, and any other information you think will be pertinent.

Next, gather your tax documents for the last three to five years. As a self-employed worker, you likely file a Schedule C (Form 1040) and a Schedule SE. Make sure you have copies of these forms.

Dealing with deductions

Many self-employed workers write off business expenses in their tax returns. Travel expenses, internet, and other costs associated with doing business are all ways to save by reducing your taxable income. Doing so can save you money, but it can also reduce your net income which is what lenders will see when you provide them with your information.

If you’re hoping to get approved for a bigger loan, one solution is to plan your taxes in the year prior to applying for a mortgage. Make fewer deductions than you normally would to increase your net income.

Be ready to clarify

When a mortgage lender is reviewing your information, make sure you are open and available to provide any information that can be helpful to them in considering your application. Being prompt and accurate with your responses will signal to your lender that you are willing to work with them.


No matter how much experience you have as a gardener, mistakes happen to everyone. Some gardening mistakes are actually avoidable. Below, you’ll find some of the most common gardening mistakes and how to stay clear of them. Next time around that you decide to plant, you’ll have an even greener thumb than you did the season before. 


You Planted Too Early


When the springtime hits, it’s easy to feel eager to plant and get your crops going. Planting too early without proper grow cloths or warm enough temperatures can be completely detrimental to anything that is trying to grow. 


Watering Too Much Or Two Little


There is a finite amount of water that’s required for plants to thrive. The general rule is for plants to receive about an inch of water per week. Plants that have not been watered enough will show certain signs including yellowing leaves and wilting leaves. Any fruits that are produced will be deformed. Be sure that you make up for the deficit of water during dry spells that occur by watering accordingly.   


Plants that have been overwatered can also cause yellowing leaves. You don’t want your water to pool or cause puddles in the garden. If this happens, you’ll need to add a bit more organic matter to the soil itself. 


Not Planting In A Bright Enough Place


It’s a basic scientific principle that plants need sunlight to grow properly. If you have planted things in the shade, they may not thrive. If you don’t have a sunny spot to plant your garden, try using portable gardening containers that you can move around. Shoot for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day for your plants.       


Not Weeding


Weeds can obviously choke your crops, sucking moisture and food away from the plants. If you don’t actively work to eliminate weeds, your plants will suffer greatly. Eliminate weeds as soon as you spot them. Allowing one weed to flourish is to allow them all to take over! Mulching can be a great start in helping to keep weeds away. If any weeds are found after the mulch has been put down, be sure to move them promptly. 


Planting Too Much


If you plant too much, space can become a problem. Focus on planting what you and your family like to eat and will actually use. This problem comes down to a matter of preference and taste. You don’t want to spend a ton of time gardening just to realize that  you’ve completely wasted your efforts. 


Keep in mind that there’s always something new to learn when it comes to gardening. Know that no matter what level of gardener you are mistakes are inevitable but not completely unavoidable.         



Once you have found the home that you want to live in, put in the offer, and start the process of closing on a home, you may feel like you’re “home free.” The hard part may technically be over, but there’s one more important thing that you need to think about before you get the keys to your place: Closing costs. 

A few days before you head to sign all of your paperwork to close on the home, your lender will send you a detailed report of different closing costs that you need to pay upon the settlement of the property. 


Closing Costs Defined


Closing costs are what you pay to the lender and third parties. These are due at the time of closing on the property and must be paid up front. You should estimate that your closing costs will be between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price of the home.


Everything Included In Closing Costs


Closing costs cover both one-time and recurring fees that are a part of your home purchase. The one-time fees are things that are generally associated with buying the home. These would include attorneys fees, lender fees, home inspection fees, document prep fees, underwriting fees, credit report fees, and realtor fees. You’ll also need a bank issued check for your down payment at this time.  


At closing, an escrow account will be set up. This is like a forced savings account that will be drawn from to cover things like taxes, insurance, loan interest, and title insurance. These are all very important costs that are a part of buying a home.     


Do Your Homework Ahead Of Time


The best way to deal with closing costs is to be prepared ahead of time. Talk to your lender in order to get an estimate of the closing costs. From there, you’ll need to decide if you need to finance your closing costs or simply pay them up front. There are advantages to both approaches. Sometimes, lenders will look at you as less favorable if you need to finance all of your closing costs. It all depends on the terms of your loan. This is why research is vital.


Compare Rates And Lenders


It’s important not to go with the first lender you talk to. Get some recommendations from your realtor and friends to see who might be a good fit for you. Every lender specializes in something different, so you want to be sure that who you chose is a good fit for you. 


The most important thing that you can do with closing costs and the financing of your home is to get educated!     



As a homebuyer, it is paramount to establish realistic expectations for the homebuying journey. That way, you can take a step-by-step approach to achieve various goals along this journey and acquire your ideal residence faster than ever before.

Setting realistic homebuying expectations can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you set realistic homebuying expectations.

1. Assess Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Dozens of homes are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be better equipped than others to determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house. As a result, you could reap the benefits of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.

Oftentimes, it helps to create a list of home must-haves and wants prior to searching for a house. This list can be updated as you proceed along the homebuying journey and will serve as a guide to help you discover your ideal residence.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With a mortgage in hand, you can narrow your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Then, you can speed up the homebuying journey and find your ideal residence in no time at all.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions generally offer a broad array of mortgage options. Examine all of your mortgage options closely, and you're sure to find a mortgage that matches your finances.

Also, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions when you meet with potential lenders. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to help you in any way they can. Thus, you can gain expert insights from these mortgage specialists that could help you make an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent understands what it takes to purchase a home in any housing market. Therefore, he or she can help you prepare for the real estate market and establish realistic homebuying expectations from day one.

Typically, a real estate agent first will learn about your homebuying goals. He or she then will help you map out a successful homebuying journey, one that concludes with you discovering your dream house at a budget-friendly price.

A real estate agent offers plenty of support at each stage of the homebuying journey too. This housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you updated about new residences that become available and help you evaluate houses. And if you want to submit an offer on a home, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

Achieving the optimal results during the homebuying journey sometimes can be difficult. But if you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be able to streamline the homebuying journey and ensure that you can purchase a great house that suits you perfectly.


For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.

Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:

1. What is my "dream" residence?

One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.

Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.

Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.

Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.

Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.

2. How will I pay for a home?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.

Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.

3. How do I begin searching for a house?

Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.

An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.

Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.




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