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Not too long ago, they offered in abundance what are called ‘stated income loans’, more commonly referred to as ‘no doc’ or ‘low-doc’ loans, mortgages that require no documentation or little documentation to verify the borrower’s income and assets. In return, the borrower, who must have very good credit, make a big down payment-generally 25% or more-and pay a higher interest rate.

Given current market conditions and the sub-prime debacle, these loans have become more difficult to find, cost more, and are mainly funded by hard money lenders who do not conform to bank standards.

The loans are common among self-employed borrowers who have difficulty substantiating all of their income and service industry employees, such as waiters and hair stylists, whose pay is hard to pinpoint exactly. Borrowers also may use no-doc loans when they derive most of their income from commissions or when they have very complicated income structures.

In reality, calling the loans ‘no-doc’ and ‘low-doc’ are misnomers. Some ‘low-doc’ loans require plenty of documentation, such as tax returns and profit-and-loss statements. Even ‘no-doc’ loans require a credit report and a property appraisal.