Top Tips for Scoring a Mortgage Win as a Professional Sportsperson

Hollywood Home

2024 boasts an impressive line-up of sporting events, with top talent competing from all over the globe, from the fast-approaching Golf Masters Tournament to major competitions over the summer including the Paris Olympic Games, the T20 Cricket World Cup, Euro 2024, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the Paralympic Games.

In fact, there are over 800 recognised sports played around the world, from archery and gymnastics to ice hockey and formula one, each with its own set of professional athletes. The number of professionals varies by sport, with over 120,000 professional soccer players worldwide, nearly 4,000 professional tennis players, approximately 50,000 pro golfers, over 600,000 screened professional poker players, more than 25,000 registered American football players, and the list goes on.


So, what do these professional sportspeople earn? It can vary wildly of course depending on the sport and the level reached. The legendary Tiger Woods has earned $1.7bn in his 26-year career, $120m of which was from tournament winnings (more from PGA tournaments than any other player in history), the rest from endorsements, sponsorships, and other business ventures. Tennis Player Andy Murray’s net worth is said to be over £80m, typically averaging around £4 million per year in on-court earnings. The average wage of a Premier League footballer is just over £60,000 a week, which equates to more than £3 million a year, with players who capitalise on their success like David Beckham, earning considerably more after leaving their playing careers behind [now worth over £400 million]. In darts, Luke Littler recently made history as the youngest ever player to reach the PDC World Darts finals, winning £200,000 in prize money. The 16-year-old, who was hoping to become darts youngest ever world champion, lost out to Luke Humphries in the final who took home a massive £500,000. Still quite a pay day for a young man who looks to have a very bright future ahead.

Whilst earnings for sportspeople have the potential to reach incredible heights, when it comes to finances, things can get a little complicated. Leading individual figures in sports, such as athletes, golfers, and tennis players, are likely to be considered self-employed for tax purposes because of the nature of their earnings. Their income is complex and will often include various elements, such as prize money, appearance fees, sponsorship deals, and endorsements, which means irregular income streams which can fluctuate.


Do professional sportspeople need a specialist mortgage?

Professional sportspeople are likely to need a specialist mortgage for a variety of reasons, we explore these further below.

Inconsistent Income

Often, professional sportspeople are on short-term contracts, meaning that their circumstances could change quickly. Agreeing a long-term mortgage deal based on a 12 or 24-month contract can be tricky. Income also varies significantly, for example in tennis, highly ranked players, both men and women, can earn huge sums when it comes to prize money, while those ranked between 200 and 2,000 earn more modest salaries by comparison. Often income is also subject to forces outside of the professionals control. For example footballers could see their salary fall if their team gets relegated, (typically between 40% and 50%), and whilst a few might get additional bonuses for scoring goals, this also cant be considered  a guaranteed income.

Olympians typically get a grant from the Olympic Sports Fund to cover equipment and living expenses, but they may have no additional income, even if they’re a bronze, silver, or gold medal winner. Sponsorship deals or endorsements may need to be taken into consideration to prove they can afford the repayments.

Career Longevity

Whilst a typical mortgage term is around 25 years, this can be a point of contention for lenders when it comes to sportspeople. For example, mortgage lenders often restrict lending to the age of 35 for footballers unless there is evidence of enough income into retirement. Many professionals take up regular careers once their professional career is over; only a handful make it into top paying jobs such as TV presenting. This means their income will fall drastically, and mortgage payments may be unrealistic down the line.

Thankfully, there are sports which are not as restricted when it comes to age. Golfers, darts players, poker players, snooker players and so forth, typically have less restriction on the upper age they can play to, and therefore should have less trouble securing a longer mortgage term.

Affordability Criteria

Borrowers need to demonstrate their ability to meet their monthly payments. Demonstrating ongoing affordability can be difficult for professional sportspeople, due to the complex make up of their earnings. Lenders will also want to see a track-record of at least 2 years of playing at a professional level.

Risk of Injury

The risk of injury for a professional athlete can influence lending eligibility because lenders often evaluate the stability of a borrower’s income. An injury resulting in time-off and reduced income can be a concern for lenders, as it can impact the borrower’s ability to meet their mortgage payments. Tennis players or footballers may be unable to train or play if they get a break, tear, strain, or sprain to a limb. Boxer’s careers are particularly volatile; the reality is their career could be over in a single night if they suffer a significant injury, leading to a loss of income, making it challenging to meet mortgage obligations.

Residential Status

Many professional sportspeople need to live or work in a different country to pursue their career, and this can add further complexities for mortgage lenders, due to interest rate fluctuations, and additional due diligence requirements. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to arrange a mortgage in this profession.


What steps can I take to ensure a successful mortgage application?

Often, mortgages for sports professionals have an age cap, but there's flexibility if you can demonstrate income based on your future retirement plans. It can be a little trickier of course due to shorter careers, but some lenders consider potential earnings post-retirement. Having a clearly defined career path can help, to show you’ve thought about what you might do after you retire, such as coaching, sports analysis, nutrition, or fitness management.

To mitigate the risk of injury affecting the ability to meet mortgage payments, professional athletes can secure adequate insurance to cover lost income during injury recovery periods. Athletes can also explore alternative sources of income, such as endorsements or investments, to ensure they have financial stability if they were to get injured and forced to retire early.

Consider taking action to boost your credit rating and find an accountant or financial adviser to help you maximise your investments and assets.


Who can help me arrange a mortgage?

Often for the reasons noted above high street and traditional lenders wont be able to accommodate the very special and unique earning configurations professional sports people possess. A specialist broker who understands the intricacies of the income of sportspeople and has experience in dealing with arranging million-plus mortgages, is a good place to start. They should be familiar with dealing with high-net-worth individuals whose income is structured in an unusual way, with access to a wide array of lenders. Specialist brokers can help negotiate on your behalf and find a tailored mortgage deal for your specific needs, through relationships with a network of private banks and lenders who are more flexible and considered of different client parameters in their underwriting criteria. These lenders will usually consider your overall situation and assets, and not just mainstream income. Unfortunately navigating these pathways independently can be challenging, time consuming and overlook many of the best potential avenues.

As well as the obvious benefit of higher borrowing amounts and flexibility, these types of mortgages provide other advantages such as access to exclusive deals which can include preferential interest rates, cashback, and other perks. Many offer repayment terms tailored to your specific financial situation, and you’re likely to get a more personalised service, including a dedicated account manager and customised loan packages.

Whilst longevity of career and fluctuation of income can prove challenging for professional sportspeople when seeking a mortgage, there are options available, and talking to a specialist who understands the unique circumstances of this profession can offer a multitude of benefits.

Enness Global prides itself on catering for high-net-worth individuals, founders and entrepreneurs including professional sportspeople from all corners of the sporting world. Since 2007 we have helped many with complex current and future earnings, and always take a considered and personalised approach to sourcing the best possible win for our clients.


The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not constitute advice or a recommendation. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Enness and are not intended to indicate any market or industry viewpoints, or those of other industry professionals.