What’s The Difference Between A Primary Residence, Second Home and Investment Property?


When applying for a mortgage, a borrower’s “Occupancy Type” is a major factor in the amount of down payment required, loan program available and mortgage interest rate.

Whether you are purchasing, doing a rate/term refinance or taking equity out of your property through a cash out refinance, occupancy type is always considered by the underwriter.

Three Types of Occupancy:

Owner Occupied / Primary Residence -

According to HUD, a principal residence is a property that will be occupied by the borrower for the majority of the calendar year.

At least one borrower must occupy the property and sign the security instrument and the mortgage note for the property to be considered owner-occupied.

Second Home -

To qualify as a second home, the property typically must be at least 50 miles from the primary residence, and it cannot appear that the real estate is being purchased for rental investment purposes.

Investment Property -

A property that is not occupied by the owner and is typically utilized for rental income purposes.

Down Payment Requirements:

Owner Occupied / Primary Residence -

Purchases for VA and USDA can go up to 100% financing, while FHA requires 3.5% of the purchase price as a down payment.  Conventional financing may require anywhere from 5% – 25% depending on the credit score, county, property type and loan amount.

Second Home -

Average 10% down for a purchase, and 25% equity for a refinance.

Investment Property -

Down payment requirements will range from 20-25% depending on the number of units.  When doing a cash-out refinance on an investment property with 2-4 units, the required loan to value will need to be 70% or lower to qualify.

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*It should be noted that on any high balance loan amount the above mentioned Loan-to-Value (LTV) requirements will change. Credit score requirements also apply.

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March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment

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About Rick

Rick Wamsley has been in the mortgage industry for over 15 years as both a branch manager and loan officer positions. He is very knowledgeable in all residential mortgage programs. As a former multi-million dollar real estate agent he will confidently handle your loan to make sure that all goes smooth. No matter where you are in your mortgage needs Rick will take time to make sure you have the very best mortgage. If you're looking to purchase a home but don't know where to start, then Rick is your first step. He will guide you through the process with ease and make your dreams of home ownership come true. He loves spending time with his family and encourages all people to strive for a life with no limits. His wonderful personality coupled with years of experience will make your mortgage experience one to remember and share with others. NMLS 166874 and TN license 110733

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