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How to Buy a House if You’re a Social Media Influencer

How to Buy a House if You’re a Social Media Influencer
Zina Kumok
Home.com Contributor

In just a few short years, being a “social media influencer” has gone from a fringe hobby to a mainstream profession. Millions of influencers now make six-figure livings as content creators and brand representatives on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.

If you’re a social media influencer earning a steady income from online content, you may be thinking about buying a house.

A home purchase gives you stability and a home base, but owning real estate has other benefits, too. Chief among them is the opportunity to build wealth through equity and income-generating properties. By buying a house, you can leverage any influencer money you earn into a home and other revenue streams.

What's in this Article?

Can influencers qualify for a home?
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Work with an influencer-friendly lender
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How your tax advisor can help
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See the possibilities
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Can I buy a house as a social media influencer? Yes. Here’s how. 

There are standard requirements you’ll need to meet to buy a home regardless of your source of income. These include having a down payment, meeting credit score requirements, and proving that you have sufficient income to make your monthly mortgage payments.

The last part can be the trickiest one for influencers, which may seem ironic if you’re a high-earning content creator. But lenders need to verify that you have sufficient ongoing income to afford your mortgage. That’s why it’s easier to get a loan when you have a 9-to-5 job. The income documentation is more straightforward when you can provide W-2 tax forms and have been in the same industry for several years or have equivalent schooling.

That doesn’t mean buying a house as a social media influencer is impossible, though. Far from it.

You just need to be able to prove your income and ability to repay. Here’s how to do it.

Get preapproved

Preapproval is the first step in buying a home. When you apply for preapproval, your lender will tell you how much you can afford to borrow. That determines your homebuying budget.

This process is especially important for social media influencers, because not all lenders will be familiar with your income structure. They may have a lot of questions and documentation requirements because of your unconventional job.

“The earlier you start the process, the more you knock out all these random questions and concerns before you buy a home,” says Robert Farrington, CEO of The College Investor.

Provide tax returns for the past two years

“As a social medial influencer, you would be considered self-employed,” says Jodalee Tevault, a senior mortgage consultant with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in Chandler, Ariz. (Fairway owns Home.com.)

Self-employed borrowers have to provide specific records to prove their income. Tevault explains: “You’d have to have a two-year history of the income, along with two years of filing either Schedule C income on your personal tax return or you could start a corporation and report your income that way as well.”

If you’re new to earning money as an influencer or content creator, you may want to work with a tax advisor or financial planner. They can help you review options for structuring your income and whether you should set up a formal business.

“As a social medial influencer, you would be considered self-employed.”

Jodalee Tevault, senior mortgage consultant

Your lender will calculate the average income for those two years and use that figure as the annual income. For example, if the net income was $60,000 one year and $80,000 the next, the lender will use $70,000 as the average net income. They’ll base your mortgage amount on the $70,000, even though the $80,000 figure is more recent. 

Lenders like to see stable income amounts, but it’s also good if your income increases over time. What they don’t want to see is a significant drop in income. If you earned $120,000 in 2020 and $80,000 in 2021, that’s a red flag to lenders.

Even though your 2021 earnings are still well above the median household income in the U.S., the drop in income signals that your income is inconsistent or that it could decrease again. Consistency is a key element lenders look for when you apply for a loan.

Organize your supporting documents

In addition to your personal tax returns, your lender may ask to see your business tax returns, profit and loss statements, business bank account statements, and other income-related information.

You may also be able to bolster your application by providing copies of contracts for ongoing brand partnerships or influencer marketing deals.

Using influencer money to buy a home is a relatively new phenomenon. Being proactive can go a long way toward showing your lender you’re qualified. Contracts, bank statements, invoices, earnings reports – all of these can show that you are earning steady income that will remain consistent or is likely to increase.

Make a large down payment

The minimum down payment for a conventional loan is 3% of the purchase price, if the home will be your primary residence. If you’re buying an investment property, the down payment requirement will be 15% or higher.

If you’re struggling to qualify for a loan, consider making a larger down payment than strictly necessary. A larger down payment reduces the risk for the lender, since you’re borrowing less money.

It can also be a good move for you, since the larger your down payment, the more equity you have in the home right upfront – and the less you’ll pay over time in interest and mortgage insurance (if taking out a loan that requires it).

Borrowers who make larger down payments may also qualify for lower interest rates, which is a big advantage as mortgage interest rates increase.

Consider a bank statement loan

If you don’t qualify for a standard mortgage loan, you may be eligible for a bank statement loan. With a bank statement loan, your lender will use bank statements from the past 12 months to verify your income.

That may be a good option if you recently became an influencer and don’t have two years of tax returns to prove your income.

Depending on the circumstances, however, lenders can ask for statements going back further than 12 months.

When financial influencer Lauren Greutman, host of “The Hard Money Talks” podcast, got divorced, she had to refinance the mortgage she had taken out with her ex-husband into her name.

Greutman chose to use the same bank that issued her her original mortgage. Even though she’d been on the mortgage for 10 years with her ex-husband, and she used the same bank, she had to provide more than 60 months of bank statements to prove she could handle the mortgage on her income alone.

“I live in a small town, and the bank I went through is a small-town bank,” Greutman says. “They’re not used to people like me, and they were very unaware of how I actually made my money.”

Add a Cosigner

If you’re not able to qualify for a standard mortgage or bank statement loan because you don’t have a long enough income history, you might ask someone to cosign the loan with you.

This person should be someone you trust and who has a high credit score, strong credit history, and relatively low debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your cosigner will be equally responsible for making the mortgage payments, which means that if you cannot afford them at some point, they will need to pay. Otherwise, the loan could go into default, which will hurt your credit and theirs.

Once your influencer business has increased its revenue or you have two years of tax returns as a self-employed individual and are able to qualify on your own, you can refinance the mortgage to remove your cosigner. At that point, the house will be solely in your name.

Work with a lender that is willing to work with influencers

Lauren Greutman’s story raises an important point about working with the right mortgage lender as a social media influencer.

Talk with a few different lenders to find out whether they are willing to work with borrowers who have unconventional income sources and whether they offer options such as bank statement loans.

Some lenders are happy to take on clients with unconventional sources of income and assets, while others may not have the resources or understanding to see the loans through to closing.

To take one example, Home.com’s parent company, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, recently helped a homebuyer use the sale of his Instagram handle to buy a home.

The homebuyer sold the handle for $60,000 and wanted to use the money for his down payment. It was the first time the loan officer with whom he worked had seen such an asset sale used for a home purchase, but he worked with his team to document the sale and make it happen.

Make sure that your lender is willing to do the extra legwork, if needed, to get you into the home you want.

Related reading: How to Sell Your Instagram Handle to Buy a House: Buyer Uses $60,000 Social Media Sale to Purchase First Home

Talk to your tax advisor before you decide to buy

When you’re applying for a mortgage, the lender will calculate how much you qualify for based on your debt-to-income** (DTI) ratio. The DTI is the total monthly debt payments divided by your monthly income. DTI requirements vary by loan program, but typically you’ll need a DTI of less than 50% to qualify. 

When you’re traditionally employed, the lender uses your gross monthly income (your income before taxes) to determine your DTI. But when you’re self-employed, lenders use your net income, or the income before taxes but after business deductions.

If you’re like many other business owners, you probably take a lot of deductions to reduce your taxable income. That means your net income may be much lower than your gross. This could result in a higher DTI, meaning you may qualify for a lower mortgage amount.

A low net income can also lower the loan amount for which a lender will approve you. Although the number is low because of your deductions, it still looks to the lender like there’s less money available for your mortgage payment.

“The biggest issue is the net income can be much lower than the gross income,” says Dan Chapman, a Fairway mortgage advisor. “One option is just to show more net income, so don’t deduct so many expenses. Another option is if you have a substantial amount of money in your bank account, we can use some of that as income assuming its not being used for the down payment on the purchase.”

If you’re still a year or two removed from buying a home, talk to your tax advisor about which deductions to take and how you can put yourself in the best position to qualify for a home.

See the possibilities

If you’re a social media influencer ready to buy a home now and have taken significant deductions the past two years, that doesn’t mean you should delay buying a home. You may end up buying a smaller property than you first expected, or a fixer-upper or a home in a different city or town than you had planned. But that’s OK.

Buying real estate can save (and earn) you money long-term, because you can stabilize your housing payment as rents increase and you will build equity in the home. And if you purchase a multifamily property and live in one unit while renting out the others, you can start earning rental income.

That money can be put into savings, additional properties, or other financial endeavors. You might also purchase an investment property, particularly if you travel often or haven’t chosen a home base yet.

Even a modest property can be a good choice, especially if the rent you can charge is higher than the monthly mortgage payment and maintenance expenses. The rent can cover the mortgage, and you can use the profits for savings and other goals. And, you will be building equity in the investment property, which you can borrow against for future purposes as the value of the home appreciates.

A big opportunity for influencers

Buying a home when you’re a social media influencer may not be as straightforward as it would be for someone with a more conventional job, but it’s still entirely possible.

Before applying, have your documentation lined up and know how much you can afford to put down. You’ll also need to determine how big of a mortgage payment you can afford each month based on your expenses and goals. The more organized you are beforehand, the smoother the process will be.


*Pre-approval is based on a preliminary review of credit information provided to Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, which has not been reviewed by underwriting. If you have submitted verifying documentation, you have done so voluntarily. Final loan approval is subject to a full underwriting review of support documentation including, but not limited to, applicants’ creditworthiness, assets, income information, and a satisfactory appraisal.

**Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is monthly debt/expenses divided by gross monthly income.

Further Reading

Fairway Advantage Pre-Approval is the Key to a New Home

$15k First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit 2021: All Your Questions Answered