Many individuals are considering purchasing a second home in addition to their primary residence. The increase in remote work makes buying a second home or an investment property possible for many homebuyers.

Whether you want another property to spend time working by the mountains, to use as an investment property, or to enjoy as a vacation home, read this blog to learn more about how to buy a second home or an investment property using a mortgage to finance your purchase.

What Is An Investment Property

An investment property is purchased to generate income – and is not your primary residence. Qualifying for a mortgage to buy an investment property can be more difficult due to the more stringent lending guidelines.

Why Should You Invest In Real Estate?

Investing in real estate is a great way to increase your monthly income by renting the property to tenants. Purchasing an investment property also allows you to diversify your investment portfolio, which can protect you during economic downturns.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Investment Property

As with any large purchase, there are key factors to consider before investing in real estate:

Property Location

The location of the investment property can play a significant role in attracting tenants. Depending on the type of property and the market for tenants, homebuyers may want to purchase a property in a neighborhood close to restaurants, parks, and stores and has a highly-ranked school district.

Property Management

Consider whether you’d like to manage the property yourself or hire a property management company. Being a landlord is a big commitment that requires you to be available 24 hours per day. If you can’t picture yourself dealing with the property upkeep or a tenant who violates the lease terms, a property management company might be the best choice for you (for a monthly fee, of course).


Owning an investment property can carry many benefits, but there are risks to keep in mind as well. You may experience vacancies, get a bad tenant, or the property could face serious damages – it’s important to weigh these options against the potential income and equity an investment property can bring.

How To Buy A Second Home With A Low Down Payment

A few options are available for homebuyers to purchase a second home. Many homebuyers choose to use either Conventional or Jumbo financing.

Conventional Mortgage For Investment Properties

Conventional mortgages are institutional mortgages that are not insured by the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) or guaranteed by the VA (Veterans Administration). FHA and VA mortgages are sometimes informally referred to as “government loans.” In other words, conventional mortgages make up most loans other than government loans. Conventional mortgages include conforming loans, but they also include jumbo and portfolio loans.

Most commonly, when someone refers to a conventional loan, they are referring to a mortgage that follows the guidelines of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Conventional loans are often the most sought-after by homebuyers and home sellers alike because of their down payment flexibility, fast closes, and low rates.

To use a conventional loan to purchase an investment property, homebuyers need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Minimum down payment of 15% for single-unit properties
  • Minimum down payment of 25% for 2-4 unit properties
  • 620 minimum credit score
  • Cannot use gift funds, regardless of the amount of the gift

If a homebuyer meets those eligibility requirements, lenders will review their loan application to ensure they meet their qualification requirements and their purchase is within the conforming loan limit before approving their loan.

Typically, lenders want to ensure that homebuyers have the following:

  • A debt-to-income ratio of 49%
  • Ample reserve funds
  • The ability to use the rental property and the cash flow to offset their mortgage payment

Jumbo Mortgage Loan For An Investment Property

A jumbo loan is used to purchase higher-priced homes or larger properties with loan amounts that exceed the values set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for conforming loans. Because these loans do not conform to the loan limits set out by the FHFA, they are not eligible for purchase by government-backed entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These loans are underwritten to individual investor guidelines, as these larger corporations can write stricter rules to fund these loans above the county’s loan limit.
Not all jumbo investors will lend against these properties, and guidelines will vary widely from investor to investor, so discussing potential options with a lender for these higher loan amounts is wise.

To qualify for a jumbo loan to purchase an investment property, homebuyers need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Less Stringent Investor – Minimum 20% down with 740+ credit or 20% down with 700+ credit
  • Best Priced Investor – Requires a minimum 40% down payment with a 740+ credit score

Why Lenders View Investment Properties As ‘Risky’

Lenders usually view second homes and investment properties differently compared to primary residences and tend to associate more risk with the loans used to purchase them. This is because there is typically a higher risk of default associated with loans for investment properties.

To combat the higher rates that are associated with investment properties, a larger down payment will reduce the risk you present to lenders and can lower your interest rate.

Mortgage rates for second homes and investment properties can range from 0.5 – 0.75% higher than interest rates for primary homes.

One of the drawbacks to purchasing a home as a second home or an investment property is that homebuyers are unable to use VA loans or an FHA loan for the purchase.

Lenders Have Stricter Requirements

Lenders considering a second mortgage application generally have stricter requirements for credit scores and debt-to-income (DTI) requirements, and homebuyers must prove that they have ample reserve funds available.

Is an Investment Property Loan right for you?

There is no one-size-fits-all for mortgage financing. The best way to determine whether you should buy a house as an investment property is to talk to one of our mortgage experts at JVM Lending. Our experts can walk you through monthly payment scenarios, property taxes, and closing costs, give you current interest rates, and discuss any other questions or concerns you might have.

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