Financing an Investment Property

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Update 7/31/2008: Fannie Mae guidelines have been updated for investment properties since this post was written.

This post is originally from Rain City Guide.  I thought I would share it with you while I’m on a blogging vacation.  To read the original post with comments, click here.

Obtaining a mortgage for a non-owner occupied propery is much different than buying one you will reside in.  For starters, qualifying is tougher and mortgage interest rates are higher as it’s a riskier transaction for the lender.   Here are some quick tips to help get you started if you’re considering buying an investment property.

Plan on using at least 20% for your down payment plus closing costs.   With a 25 or 30% down payment, you will receive a slightly better interest rate.   Just to give you an idea, here is a sample of some current rates based on a single family dwelling with a sales price of $450,000 for a 30 year fixed mortgage and a minimum 720 credit score:

Owner Occupied with minimum 20% down:  5.75% priced with 1% origination/discount point (APR 5.904%)

Non-Owner Occupied (NOO) with 20% down: 6.375% with 1% point (APR 6.537%)

NOO with 25% down: 6.250% with 1% point (APR 6.413%)

NOO with 30% down: 6.125% with 1% point (APR 6.289%)

Of course, you can always pay more in points to have a lower rate.   This is just to provide you with an apples to apples comparison.

There are two camps for qualifying for an investment property:  those who are proven at managing rentals and those who are buying a rental for the first time or who have less than 2 years history.  If you have less than a 2 year history, then it’s likely that you will not be able to use rent credit from the proposed purchase.  Lenders allow 75%  of the rent to be used for qualifying purposes.   Proving you’re a financially successful landlord to the underwriter will take your last two year’s complete tax returns including the Schedule E’s.   If you can qualify for the full PITI payment on the investment property along with your current PITI payment on your residence, then the underwriter may only require a regular appraisal.  Otherwise, count on the appraisal costing almost twice as much as a typical appraisal for conventional financing.   Fannie and Freddie also require a minimum of 6 months reserves (cash assets after closing) for NOO borrowers. 

Odds and Ends

  • FHA can be a great way for first time buyers to get into the investor market when they’re buying a 2-4 unit home.  The buyer must occupy in one of the units and the mortgage will be treated as an “owner occupied” transaction.   You will have upfront and monthly mortgage insurance and can buy with as little as 3% down payment.
  • Second homes are sometimes treated as investment properties.  This is really up to the underwriter.  Typically if the home is located within 50 miles of the borrowers residence or if it does not make sense as a second or vacation home, the underwriter may determine that it’s an investment which means tougher underwriting and the NOO rate.
  • Fannie Mae programs exist that help family members buy properties that don’t meet the second home requirements without treating it as an investment purchase (Family Opportunity Mortgage).

As always, I highly recommend that you meet with your local Mortgage Professional as soon as possible if you’re even just considering obtain a mortgage for any reason (investment property, residencial purchase or refi, vacation home, etc.).

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