There are many different ways to get approved for a loan today. Dodd-Frank legislated there must be an ability-to-repay the loan (as if this needed to be legislated). As a result, lenders took a strict interpretation of this rule. In order to qualify, you had to be a salaried employee, or if self-employed have a positive net income, or a 2 year history of receiving interest and dividends to qualify. If you had enough saved in retirement accounts to pay cash for the house, but you were retired and had no income, you were not able to qualify.