Anyone reading The Times last weekend would have spotted my awkward face peering out from the front page of the Money section. Ashley and I were used as a case study of a freelancing couple who can’t get a mortgage. Our situation is a little different from most freelancers (a bizarre mixture of salaried employment, zero-hour contracts and ‘proper’ freelance work) but our homebuying options are no different – we have barely any. Halifax eased up their mortgage rules for the self employed last week, prompting the press interest.
Putting aside the biggest problem with the house buying market (that is, soaring prices in the rental market which make it impossible to save for a deposit) there is another spanner that has been slowly appearing in the works. Mortgages as products aren’t built for modern, flexible working. Our bank’s credit-checking software can’t deal with our various income streams, so it sputters and gives up.
“We’re sorry about that Mr Norris. Can we interest you in a personal loan?”
Coincidentally my MD also penned a feature for Real Business this week on the failure of the banks to support house buyers. He sold his last business for about £5 million in 2007, and is overseeing Crunch’s amazing growth. The company, of which he is the majority shareholder, is currently turning over about £2.5 million per year and is in profit (something almost unheard of for a four year old tech company). He, too, cannot get a mortgage.
Sputtering machines and cautious bankers conspire against us. They ruined our economy, so we’ve adapted the way we work to compensate. Now, they don’t understand the way we work, so they close the door in our faces.