How to get proof of employment when applying for a mortgage

There are the accepted documents you can use for employment and income verification.

Elissa

Elissa Suh

Published May 29, 2020

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Pay stubs and W-2 forms are commonly used as proof of employment

  • Your employer may write a verification letter or use an automated verification service to confirm your job title, employment history, and salary information

  • If you’re self-employed, you can use your 1099 form, tax returns, and bank statements as proof of income

  • When you apply for a mortgage, the employment and income verification process may vary depending on the lender, loan type, and loan program

Proof of employment is important to any lender, landlord, or even social service agency that needs information about your employment situation. There are a few different documents that you can use to prove your employment, like a pay stub, tax return, or bank statement, and you'll probably have to show a combination of them. You can also have your employer write a formal verification letter that contains all of the necessary information about your salary and employment history.

Many of these documents also help verification of income, which is really what ends up being scrutinized when you apply for a mortgage. We’ll go through all the types of documents you can use to show proof of employment and talk about how employment verification works when taking out a mortgage to buy a house .

How to get employment verification for mortgage application

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will assess your financial situation to make sure you can pay your monthly mortgage payment. The process may be different depending on the loan type, the loan program, and, of course, the lender, but it is typical for lenders to look at two years of employment history and income information.

You will fill out a mortgage application, with information like your Social Security number and a list of your assets and liabilities, and provide income and employment documents (we’ll discuss them in detail next). The mortgage underwriter will verify everything, including salary information and the terms of your employment.

Some lenders may accept the documents that you’ve provided, but others may choose to communicate with your employer directly to make sure everything checks out. You may also have to sign forms that allow your employer or the IRS to share and release information to the mortgage lender. The loan processor or loan assistant should be able to guide you through the process.

It’s better for mortgage applicants to err on the side of caution by preparing as much income information and documentation as possible, which can help save time during the underwriting process.

Here are the types of documents that count as proof of employment:

Paystubs

The paystub includes your pay rate, how much you earned so far, and how much of your income went towards taxes or retirement savings. If you receive a physical check, you should get your paycheck in the mail. If you get direct deposit, you can access the pay stub electronically on your employee’s human resources platform and print it out.

Tax forms

Income tax statements can be an acceptable document for showing proof of income. If you are an employee of a company then you will have a W-2 form, provided by your employee every year. You can access it online, and you should have received one in the mail in the beginning of the year in time for tax filing season. Self-employed individuals should show their 1099 form as well as annual tax returns.

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Bank statements

The lender can use a bank statement to look at an applicant’s cash flow. Bank statements are especially important for self-employed individuals since they won’t have traditional paystubs from an employer.

Keep in mind that a bank statement can show an applicant’s proof of income from your current job, but it won’t show how long someone might continue to be employed. For that, there’s an employment letter.

Proof of employment letter

Also known as an employment verification letter, this is an official document written by an employer, typically on company letterhead. The employment letter should includes the following:

  • Employee salary information
  • Employee’s hire date
  • Employee’s job title and responsibilities
  • Employer’s contact information

You can usually put in a request to your manager to draw one up for you or ask your company’s human resources department. However, some employers, especially larger companies, may outsource this task to an employment verification service, which automates the process for all employees. You won’t need to ask your manager for anything, you can do it yourself. We’ll explain that next.

Employment verification service

An automated employment verification service is meant to be more convenient, thorough, and secure. It can show salary information over a longer period of time and in more detail, with information about gross income, base income, and overtime and bonus pay.

The way it works is that every employee sets up an account with an employer code and requests a salary key, which you provide to the lender or whoever else needs the information. The lender will log onto a website and use the salary key to retrieve your proof of employment and income. For security purposes, the salary key is a one-time use code, so you’ll have to get one for every employment verification request.

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About the author

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa Suh

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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