While homeownership is an essential factor in building wealth, navigating the process can sometimes feel daunting. There are many questions, starting with the obvious—am I even eligible for a home loan? Then other questions begin to pile up. What are my qualifiers? Can I get financial assistance? How do I even begin the home loan process? The good news is that there is help available for qualified members of the nursing profession.
I’m a Staff Nurse…Can I Get a Home Loan?
As a nurse, you may encounter income factors that aren’t universal, such as employment gaps and per diem/shift work. But never fear, home loans for nurses is possible. While employment can be tricky to explain, nursing professionals generally make a steady income, and with a bit of patience and knowledge, lenders will see you as a solid investment.
Calculating the Total Income
Total income is a marker that lenders use to identify whether a home buyer is the right candidate for a loan. This marker can be calculated by adding the total gross income from your W-2 forms from the last two years of employment. Then, divide this number by 24 to get your gross monthly income. Mortgage lenders will use this number as a springboard to determine the debt-to-income ratio (earnings vs. monthly debts) to decide if you qualify for a home loan.
What About Home Loans for Travel Nurses?
Travel nurses have an income flow that loan officers often don’t understand. They consider it “unstable income” as lenders don’t like to see employment changes. For travel nurses, this kind of rock-steady record can be impossible—there are jumps between agencies, per diem work, and even periods of staff nursing.
To increase eligibility for a home loan as a travel nurse, be sure to have substantial employment and income history. FHA loans require a steady, documented income of at least two years for qualification. Have detailed paperwork (pay stubs, W-2s, and agency contacts) ready to demonstrate eligibility.
Be ready to explain the nature of travel nursing. By writing a letter detailing the profession’s high demand and your full work history, you can influence a loan officer to see you as a good candidate.
Finally, maintain a good credit score. A score of 580 and above is imperative to qualify for a home loan. A travel nurse can sometimes be considered self-employed, so an excellent credit score can go far in demonstrating an ability to pay bills on time and consistently.
Employment Gaps and How to Calculate Them
In the nursing field, employment gaps are inevitable. It’s merely the nature of the job. Employment gaps are the time taken off in between contracts. For both staff and travel nurses, these can occur between heavy assignments or agency changes. Typically, lenders consider a month or more a significant gap that will require explanation.
To account for employment gaps, be sure to have an excellent and detailed letter of explanation ready to show lenders. They will need to be able to understand the nature of nursing work thoroughly.
More importantly, have at least a two-year history of steady income. Explanations of contractual nursing work will go over better when a loan officer can see and understand a long-term employment history. Lenders review cases on an individual basis, so presenting an informed and detailed background is key.
Before Buying a House, Consider This
- Before embarking on the path to homeownership, certain things need to be considered.
- The nature of your work. For example, are you a travel nurse or a staff nurse? How do you get paid?
- What are your financial priorities?
- How much money do you have set aside for a down payment (FHA and some other conventional loans require 3.5% of sale)
- What is your credit score? What can you do to improve it?
- Are you comfortable explaining employment gaps and/or the nature of travel/staff nursing? Do you have the documentation to prove a steady income and ability to pay bills on time?
Programs Available to Help Nurses Get Home Loans
Hero Home Programs
The Hero Home Programs™ for Nurses is made up of a network of professionals that include Realtors, Lenders, Title Companies, Attorneys, and other home-buying professionals. They work together to offer special offers and discounts when a qualified applicant buys, sells, or refinances a home. HHP is available to a variety of medical professionals, including nurses, and offers the following benefits:
- Waived fees
- Discounted rates for mortgage loans
- Increased maximum borrowing amounts
- Free 12-month Home Warranty
- Grants and rebates
- Credit at closing
- Discounts for home-related services (includes movers, carpet cleaners, inspection, and more)
To learn more about their offering, you can book a consultation with them here.
Nurse Next Door Grants
The Nurse Next Door program was developed to streamline the homebuying process for nurses by offering a matching program to find the best loan available. A team of professionals handle purchasing paperwork, financing, and closing and assist in finding the most affordable housing for the best rate.
Nurse Next Door professionals can help to navigate grants available to nursing professionals through federal, state, and local programs such as SHIP, Keystone Challenge Fund, HUD, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and other local agencies. Nurse Next Door also offers private money grants to qualified individuals, funded all or in part by agents and lending partners. These grants can be used toward closing costs.
Homes for Heroes
Homes for Heroes is a program available to healthcare workers to assist in buying, selling, or refinancing a home. Their team of professionals offers guidance in finding the best rates for loans and offers savings on lender fees, title service, and home inspection.
You may pick and choose which of these professional services to take advantage of, though with each specialist you use through HFH the savings increase. They are available to advise on finances and credit scores so that you can prepare yourself to present the best-case scenario to loan officers.
Due to the nature of some nursing professional paradigms, there may be a little extra work involved in convincing lenders to approve a home loan. However, overall nursing is considered a well-paid, stable profession. With a bit of research and utilization of these special programs designed to help healthcare professionals, homeownership can be more reality than a dream.