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Piggyback Loans: What They Are and How to Use Them
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A piggyback loan allows you to take out two mortgages at once to buy or refinance a home. It can be a great tool to avoid paying for mortgage insurance or taking out a jumbo loan, but there are some drawbacks to consider.
What are piggyback loans?
“Piggyback loan” is a term used by lenders when referring to a borrower using two mortgages to finance a home. The first loan covers most of the borrowed amount, and a second mortgage is added for the total desired loan. Most borrowers choose a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) for the second loan in a piggyback-loan scenario.
The second loan is “piggybacking” on the first mortgage, allowing you to borrow a higher percentage of your home’s value without needing mortgage insurance. You can also pick any combination of the first and second mortgage loan amount that fits your financial needs, although the second mortgage loan amount is usually smaller than the first mortgage amount borrowed.
5 reasons to get a piggyback loan
Savvy homebuyers are always looking for ways to save on their mortgage payments and piggyback loans may be a great way to do that. They also provide a short-term down payment solution if you don’t have the cash to put down 20% on a new home, but know you’ll have the resources to pay off the second mortgage in the near future. Five reasons to get a piggyback loan include:
- Avoiding mortgage insurance. You pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect lenders against losses if you default on a conventional loan with less than a 20% down payment at closing. Getting a second mortgage to avoid PMI may be a good idea so you’re not shelling out money every month for insurance that only covers your mortgage company.
- Avoiding jumbo financing. If you’re buying a luxury home or need a loan for more than the $548,250 maximum conforming loan limit (commonly known as a jumbo loan), a piggyback mortgage may help. You’ll finance the amount needed above the conforming limit, which keeps you out of the jumbo loan world’s higher interest rates and more stringent approval guidelines.
- Your current home hasn’t sold. If you need to buy a new home before your current home is sold, a piggyback loan may bridge the gap if you don’t have the cash to cover a 20% or higher down payment. An added bonus: When your home does sell, you can use your proceeds to pay off the second loan without having to refinance the first mortgage.
- You’re expecting a large bonus or other payouts. A piggyback loan may be worth it if you find your dream home before you’re scheduled to receive a large bonus or commission. Once you receive your windfall, you can use the money to pay off the second loan.
- You want to keep cash in the bank. Many financial experts recommend having at least three to six months’ worth of monthly expenses in an emergency fund. If a large down payment makes too big of a dent in your rainy day account, consider a piggyback loan and then save up to pay off the second mortgage as quickly as you can.
How a piggyback loan works
The easiest way to understand how a piggyback loan works is to compare it with a regular mortgage. The table below shows a piggyback mortgage for a $300,000 purchase if you have 10% of your own money and need the remaining $270,000 financed.
|Regular mortgage||Piggyback mortgage|
|Loan amount: $270,000 1st mortgage
Total monthly payment: $1,765.68*
|Loan amount: $240,000 first mortgage
$30,000 second mortgage
Monthly Payment: $1,494.50 first mortgage*
$250.25 second mortgage**
Total monthly $1,744.75
|Total amount borrowed: $270,000||Total amount borrowed: $270,000|
*Based on a 1.25% property tax rate, $1,050 annual homeowners insurance premium and $50/month HOA dues.
**Based on a 5.82% 15-year fixed home equity loan rate average from ValuePenguin.
Pros and cons of piggyback loans
You can avoid mortgage insurance
You may avoid jumbo loan financing
You’re building equity faster with a 15-year fixed balance on the second mortgage
You can pay off the second mortgage balance so you’re left with one lower mortgage payment
You’ll have to pay closing costs for two loans and juggle two mortgage payments
You may have challenges qualifying for the second mortgage
You’ll likely pay a higher interest rate on the second mortgage
You’ll net less if you suddenly have to sell your home and the value has dropped
How to get a piggyback loan
Getting two mortgages at the same time adds a few steps to the standard mortgage process. With a piggyback loan you’ll have to:
- Apply for two separate loans. Some mortgage companies offer both the first and second mortgages, while others may be set up with different lenders for each loan. Make sure you discuss the piggyback loan process with your loan officer so you know what to expect.
- Qualify for both mortgages. The minimum mortgage requirements are different for a first and second mortgage. For example, conventional lenders typically require a credit score as low as 620, but some home equity lenders require a score of 660 or 680. Check with your lender to make sure you meet the guidelines for approval on both loans. If you can’t qualify for both mortgages, then a piggyback loan doesn’t make sense.
- Provide documents for each loan type. If your piggyback mortgage is with a separate lender, the paperwork requirements may vary between the first and second mortgage. You may also need to provide information about each company when you set up your homeowners and title insurance, since both loans need to be covered.
Different types of piggyback loans
- 80-10-10 loan. The 80-10-10 piggyback loan is a popular option because it allows conventional borrowers to avoid paying for PMI by making a 10% down payment, taking out a first mortgage for 80% and a second mortgage for another 10%. It can also be a good choice if you need to buy a home before your current home has sold.
- 80-15-5 mortgage. A variation of the option above, except it only requires a 5% down payment with a larger second mortgage piggyback balance.
- 75-15-5 loan. Condominium buyers may consider this option to avoid the higher markups for conventional loans with small down payments.
- 80/20 loan. These were popular during the years leading up to the housing boom and allowed for 100% financing of a home purchase. When the housing market crashed, many borrowers couldn’t afford both payments and defaulted. This piggyback loan structure is not as common today but could return, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.