A Complete Guide About the Low Documentation Loans

Oct 13, 2022 By Susan Kelly


Poor or nonexistent documentation loan programs make it possible for borrowers to apply for mortgages with minimal documentation of their financial standing. In most cases, a mortgage application will require substantial documentation. Proof of income may include pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, account statements, and more. You can rest assured that your lender or mortgage broker wants to get you the best mortgage possible, so it's good news when they harass you for paperwork. The problem is that not everyone has the necessary paperwork on hand. They prefer a loan that requires little to no paperwork, and some lenders still offer this option.

How to Apply for a Low Doc Loan

There are requirements for low-documentation mortgages that a home must meet.

  • You have to put the house up as collateral for the mortgage.
  • It can be brand-new or an existing property with a mortgage.
  • One candidate should have worked full-time at their current job for at least three years.

When applying for a loan, it's in everyone's best interest to have as little paperwork as possible. This could be useful if you're self-employed or are paid in irregular amounts (such as through commission or bonuses).

Qualifying Without Documentation

The days of simple loan approval are long gone. Before the 2008 financial crisis, it was easy to get a mortgage by telling the broker your annual income. Loans based on a borrower's claimed income, sometimes known as "liar" loans, are restricted. If your mortgage is considered a "qualifying loan" by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), your lender must verify your ability to repay the loan before approving it.

While not all banks will work with borrowers who don't meet conventional mortgage qualifications, some do. It's important to remember that these loan companies have no desire to rewind the clock to 2006 and start issuing subprime loans based on faulty data. But they want to collaborate with those who can pay them back.

Qualifying for No-Doc Loans

It would help if you were a desirable borrower to get approved for these loans, and the following qualities will help. Generally, the higher your credit score, the less paperwork you'll have to complete to get a loan (above 720 is a good place to start). However, if the rest of the application is flawless, a few blemishes on your credit reports might not be a deal breaker. Having a steady income is a prerequisite to loan approval. However, non-qualified lenders may be more lenient in assessing your earnings. You might be accepted if you make a compelling argument (despite your inability to provide a W-2).

It helps your case if you have assets or access to substantial emergency funds. Deposits and investments amounting to a sizable "reserve" could be used this way. Lenders may be more flexible with your income requirements if you have substantial assets. Financiers prefer low-risk borrowers who also have some investment in the project. The chances of being approved by a lender who requires less paperwork increase as the size of your down payment increases. Unlike traditional mortgages, where a down payment of 20% is acceptable, a down payment of 40% or more may be necessary with non-qualified lenders. You can always tap into your equity at a later time.

How a Low Documentation Loan Works

Those searching for such solutions are likely to have nonstandard income sources that would be harder to prove in a conventional mortgage application. Some common ways borrowers avoid paying their fair share of taxes include using alternative assets and setting themselves up as self-employed. Credit history, down payment amount, and capacity to provide unconventional documents like bank statements are all major considerations for lenders offering these types of loans. These loans typically carry a higher interest rate than mortgages that need standard paperwork.

The Return of Low/No Documentation Loans

Since the financial crisis of 2008 and the implementation of Dodd-Frank, many of the riskiest types of low- or no-documentation loans, such as NINJA loans, have vanished. Low-documentation loans, such as the alternative documentation loan subset, were given some leeway by the ability to repay rule. Because legislation passed in 2018 voided sections of the Dodd-Frank Act, more mortgages may now meet the lower requirements for qualification.

Though it did not change the ability-to-repay rule, this legislation did make it simpler for borrowers to avoid the low-documentation label. Many community banks argued that the Dodd-Frank regulations were too restrictive, pushing for this change. Smaller banks, they maintained, might aid the real estate market's revival thanks to more relaxed lending standards. In contrast, larger banks had abandoned riskier loans that could prove helpful to local communities.


Borrowing more than 80% of a property's value may incur additional costs than the interest you pay on loan. Overlimit borrowing could result in higher interest rates. You may end up paying back thousands of dollars more than is necessary if you make these payments, so it's crucial to consider the impact on your future finances. Those with the necessary loan documentation and good credit may be eligible to apply for this type of loan. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you read and comprehend all the fine print.

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