How To Get a Mortgage With Less Than 1 Year Employment

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 16, 2024

Applying for a mortgage can seem out of reach if you're starting out or pivoting careers. Traditional advice says you need two years of employment history in the same position to apply for a mortgage. But considering that the average American worker will change jobs 12 times in their career, there are many people at any given time who wouldn't qualify for a mortgage. 

But all is not lost. You may still be able to qualify for a mortgage with less than one year of employment if you're well-prepared and can demonstrate sufficient financial strength. It can help to have years in a profession to get a mortgage, but it's not always necessary, as an underwriter will look at your complete financial picture, including education. With the 10 tips below, you may be able to support your case and get approval. 

How Much Work History Do You Need to Buy a House?

The work history you need to buy a house is more nuanced than a single number. While most conventional mortgages require two years of work history, that’s not a requirement in every case. 

You may still qualify for a mortgage if, for example, you can demonstrate positive factors like education for your current field of work or a letter explaining a recent job change. Your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, down payment and savings can also positively impact qualifying for a mortgage.

Generally, a credit score above 740 is considered good and can help secure a mortgage as it demonstrates to lenders that there is a low risk you'll default on the loan. Likewise, showing significant savings that could be used to make mortgage payments in case of job changes can help secure a loan with less than one year of employment. 

Some mortgage lenders even have rules to help applicants recently starting new jobs. Read on for the best tips to help you qualify. 

10 Tips To Get a Mortgage With Less Than 1 Year Employment

Getting a mortgage with less than one year of employment is doable, at least in some cases, if you prepare well ahead. Consider the 10 tips below to have the best shot.

1. Research Different Mortgage Providers 

Work history is important, but different mortgage providers have different standards. It’s possible to secure a home loan with less than one year of employment by leveraging alternative income sources or opting for unique mortgage products designed for people with a short employment history. You can include side hustle income, alimony, child support and, in some cases, retirement savings. 

You only need one mortgage lender's approval, but you can apply for preapproval with multiple mortgage underwriters. Research and explore different local mortgage options, as some may be willing to offer mortgages with less than one year of employment. You may also qualify for government-backed home loans.

2. Get Preapproved

Preapproval is an important step to understanding the maximum mortgage you can secure. If you're concerned about employment history for a mortgage, preapproval is essential.  It will tell you how much you are approved for and facilitate buying a home, as many homeowners prefer to sell to preapproved buyers. 

To get preapproved, you must meet with a lender to determine which types of loans might be the best options and how much you can afford to borrow. They can help clarify what kind of properties you should be looking at. Be sure to get a few offers, as you may be preapproved for a lower interest rate or a larger loan amount. 

3. Consider Alternative Income Sources

Lenders want to see that you can make monthly mortgage payments and won't default on the loan. For that, they're looking for financial stability. This can be demonstrated with a good credit score, savings, investment account and multiple income streams.

If you're self-employed, your employment history for a home loan might not satisfy most lenders. Instead, you can highlight other earnings streams, such as freelance work, rental income and investment earnings, demonstrating overall financial stability. 

4. Increase Your Savings

A solid savings account can help demonstrate responsibility and fiscal responsibility, mitigating the risk of inconsistent employment. While there's no magic number, if you can show substantial savings, equal to one to three years or more of mortgage payments, it can be easier to secure a mortgage with less than one year of work history. 

5. Be Ready to Explain Your Employment Gap

When underwriters look at job history for a mortgage, employment gaps are red flags, but with preparation, you can navigate them. Because potential lenders will likely ask about gaps in your employment history, it's best to have a coherent explanation ready. 

If you were out of work because of illness, injury or other circumstances, be prepared to provide documentation to support your story. If you were volunteering, taking a year abroad or any other activity, include it in your employment history to help fill in any gaps — and assure them that you aren't planning that again. 

6. Provide a Strong Credit Score

One metric banks look at when evaluating mortgage applications is a borrower's credit score. Making on-time payments and minimizing your credit utilization can boost your score and increase the likelihood of approval. Aim for a credit score of 740 or above to increase your chances of approval.

Remember that you can access your credit report at to see where you currently stand and to ensure that all the information on the credit report is correct. Consider using a rent reporting company to report on-time rental and utilities payments to increase your credit score faster. Becoming an authorized user on a friend's or family member's credit card can also boost your credit score — as long as their credit score or credit history is substantially better. 

7. Consult a Mortgage Broker

Professional mortgage brokers can connect you with a suitable lender based on your financial situation. They have relationships with many lenders, which can make the process of getting a mortgage more accessible and convenient. They will do some of the research and work as an advocate on your behalf throughout the mortgage application process, even without years in your profession to help get a home loan.

You can also contact some of the best online mortgage lenders to see whether you qualify. 

8. Be Prepared to Offer Additional Documentation

If you're asked for additional documentation during the home loan application process, consider it a good sign. They are willing to evaluate your application but may ask for bank statements or other financial statements, tax returns and employment records to demonstrate eligibility. To avoid delays or denials, ensure everything is in order ahead of your application.

9. Consider Co-Applicants

If your employment history could be better, and you can't demonstrate a strong financial case with a high credit score, larger down payment and savings, consider bringing in a co-applicant with a more consistent employment record. The co-applicant doesn't need to be a co-owner of the home, only a co-signer on the mortgage to support your application and help you qualify.

10. Don't Give Up

Just because you have fewer years in a profession, a mortgage isn't out of reach. Be patient and persistent, and explore your options thoroughly to get the mortgage you need. A mortgage broker or co-signer can open doors. 

Likewise, demonstrating financial responsibility from other angles — like a high credit score, savings and/or multiple income streams from freelance work — can help you qualify. Remember, you only need one "yes" to secure a mortgage and get the home you've been working toward. 

Qualifying for a Mortgage (Even with Little Employment History)

In the age of digital nomads and online workplaces, lenders are seeing more applicants with nontraditional employment histories. How much work history do you need to buy the house you've been dreaming about? It depends on preparation and approach. Even with less work experience under your belt, you could qualify for a mortgage.

With the 10 steps here, you'll know exactly where you stand and be able to improve factors that are working against you. With persistence and preparation, you can get a mortgage with one year of employment — or less. 

Want to do more? Find tips on choosing the right mortgage lender, and compare current mortgage interest rates. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What types of employment can qualify for a mortgage with less than one year of employment?


Many types of employment can qualify for a mortgage with less than one year of employment, but it depends more on additional factors. The lender will consider if the employment is related to previous education, or you may need a letter of explanation. A mortgage broker can help you navigate the best mortgage options.


Can I get approved for a mortgage if I haven't been employed for a full year?


Yes, you could get approved for a mortgage if you haven’t been employed for a year if you can demonstrate other qualifications like a large down payment, savings and a high credit score. A co-signer may help you qualify for a mortgage when you have a short employment history.


Can I use alimony, child support or a second job as income to qualify for a mortgage with less than one year of employment?


Yes, alimony, child support and a second job all qualify as part of your total income when applying for a mortgage, as long as they are regular and will continue for at least three years.