Get the Best Rates and Terms for a Conventional Loan on a Second Home

Learn about financing a vacation home. What is the down payment?

What are the Benefits of Owning a Second Home?

Second home condoHomeownership has many benefits, and one of them is the ability to own a second home. A second home can be a great investment, whether you use it as a primary residence, a vacation home, or both. There are some things to keep in mind when considering a second home, such as whether you can afford the mortgage and upkeep on two homes, and whether you'll be able to get a mortgage from a lender. Fannie Mae has guidelines for second homes that are different from those for primary residences, so be sure to check with your mortgage lender about what is required.

A second home can be a great way to invest in your future, but be sure to do your research before making the purchase.

What You Should Know About Second Mortgages

A second mortgage is a loan used to purchase a vacation home or investment property. Homeownership has many financial benefits, but it also comes with added responsibility. When you own two homes, you will need to budget for two sets of property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.

Before you apply for a second home loan, it is important to understand the conventional loan requirements and mortgage rates. Most lenders require a down payment of 10% or more. The mortgage rate for a second home is usually 0.5% to 1% higher than the rate for a primary residence.

If you plan to use your second home as a rental property, you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest and property taxes on your income tax return. You can also build equity in your second home by making regular mortgage payments.

If you’re considering the purchase of a second home, be sure to talk to a qualified lender about your financing options.

What Are the Differences Between Mortgages on Primary Residences and Second Homes?

The key distinction between a mortgage for a primary property and a mortgage for a second home is the minimum credit score required by the lender. Typically, a higher overall credit score is required to meet the conventional loan guidelines for a second home. The interest rate on a second home mortgage may also be greater. A mortgage on a second house may require a bigger down payment than a loan on a primary residence.

Second Home Mortgage Requirements

The conventional loan requirements for a second home can vary depending on the lender, but typically include a higher credit score and down payment than for a primary residence. Lenders also look at the borrower's debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and cash reserves when considering a second home loan. The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Corporation (Freddie Mac), government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that provide liquidity for the mortgage market, have different loan guidelines for second homes. To be eligible for a second home loan with a GSE, the borrower must meet certain debt-to-income ratios and have cash reserves.

How to Qualify for a Second Home Mortgage

In order to qualify for a second home mortgage, you will need to have a good credit rating and a steady income. You will also need to have a down payment of at least 10%. If you are self-employed, you may need to provide additional documentation.

Three Finance Options for a Second Home Purchase

There are three ways to finance a second home purchase:

  1. Through a home equity loan, by refinancing your first mortgage, or by taking out a personal loan. A home equity loan is a good option if you have equity in your first home and can afford the monthly payments.
  2. Refinancing your first mortgage can also be a good option if you can get a lower interest rate and can afford the monthly payments.
  3. Taking out a personal loan is another option, but you will likely have to pay a higher interest rate.

1. Home Equity Financing

Home equity financing can be a great way to get the money you need for home improvements, debt consolidation, or other major expenses. With home equity financing, you can borrow against the value of your home, using your home as collateral. This can give you the ability to get a lower interest rate than you might with other types of loans, and it can also give you the flexibility to choose how you want to use the money.

Two More Ways to Finance a Vacation Home

There are two other ways to finance a vacation home: through a home equity loan or a cash-out refinance. A home equity loan is a second loan that uses your primary home as collateral. You can usually obtain a home equity loan if you have good credit and equity in your primary home. A cash-out refinance is a refinance of your primary home that allows you to take out equity as cash. To qualify for a cash-out refinance, you will need to have good credit and enough equity in your home.

2. You Can Use a Cash-out Refinance on Your Primary Home

A cash-out refinance is a mortgage refinancing option where you take out a new loan that is larger than your existing loan and keep the difference as cash. This can be used for things like home improvements, to pay off debt, or to make a large purchase.

Another option is a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

3. Buying a Second Home with a Conventional Loan

A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not government-backed. These loans are accessible through banks and credit unions, and their interest rates are often lower than those of government-backed loans. When shopping for a second home, a conventional loan will likely be required.

There are various factors to consider when obtaining a loan for a second residence. To be eligible for a low interest rate, you must first have an excellent credit rating. Additionally, you must have sufficient equity in your first residence to finance the down payment on your second house. If you lack sufficient equity, you may still meet the requirements for a conventional mortgage, but you'll likely pay a higher interest rate.

Conventional Loan Requirements for a Second Home

A conventional loan is a home loan that is not insured by the government. Lenders who offer these loans typically have stricter requirements than those for government-insured loans, such as FHA loans. To be eligible for a conventional loan, you may need to have a higher credit score and a lower debt-to-income ratio than you would for an FHA loan. You may also be able to finance a second home with a conventional loan, but you will likely pay a higher interest rate than you would for a primary residence.

Typically, a property must meet the following guidelines to meet the criteria as a vacation or second home:

  • must be occupied for at least a part of the year by the borrower
    is limited to single-family homes
  • must be livable throughout the year
  • the borrower's exclusive control over the property is required.
  • Must be a primary residence and not a rental property or a timeshare arrangement
    cannot be bound by any agreements that provide a management company authority over the property's occupancy.
  • The property must be sufficiently far from the borrower's primary residence to be considered a second home. Lenders often consider a property to be a second home if it is located more than 50 miles from the main house.

Second Home Down Payment Requirement

Down payment graphicWhen buying a second home, there is often a higher down payment requirement. This is because the lender wants to ensure that they are covered in the event of a foreclosure. A 10% down payment is common for second home purchases, although this varies depending on the lender and the purchase price of the home.

There are some ways to get around the higher down payment requirement. One option is to take out a home-equity loan against your primary residence to use as part of your down payment on the second home. Another option is to get a mortgage that allows you to put less than 10% down. Talk to your lender about your options and what will work best for you.

Fannie Mae requires a minimum down payment of 10% for a second home; although the lender may require a larger down payment.

Second Home Reserve Requirements

If you're looking to purchase a second home, you may need to set aside more money than you originally planned. Depending on the location of your new property, you could be required to have a reserve fund equal to two or three months' worth of mortgage payments.

This rule is in place to protect lenders in case the borrower can no longer make their payments. If the lender has to foreclose on the property, they'll at least have some money from the sale to cover their losses.

The size of your reserve fund will depend on the lending institution's requirements and the value of the property. You may also be required to have mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%.

Talk to your lender about their specific requirements for purchasing a second home.

Individuals who are highly qualified will generally need at least two months of reserves, while those who are less qualified may require at least six months of reserves.

Minimum Credit Score for a Second Home

Second homes are a great way to have a getaway spot, or to invest in additional property. The minimum credit score for a second mortgage may be higher than the score required for a primary home loan. This is because there is more risk associated with lending money to someone who does not need it to live in their own home.

However, there are still many lenders who will offer mortgages for second homes to borrowers with credit scores as low as 620. This is because they understand that not everyone needs a high credit score to obtain a mortgage. There are also many ways to improve your credit score if it is below the minimum required by a lender.

If you are interested in obtaining a second home, be sure to shop around and compare interest rates and terms.

The following credit score requirements for the Federal National Mortgage Corporation are:

  • 660 fixed rate with a 10% down payment
  • 620 fixed rate with a 20% down payment

Max Seller Concessions for a Second Home

It is prohibited for the seller to make a down payment on the borrower's behalf by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; but, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do permit the seller to pay a portion of the buyer's closing expenses.

The total amount of assistance provided is determined on the down payment by the borrower.

  • 10% - 24.99% down payment - 6%
  • 25% or more - 9%

Debt to Income Ratio for a Second Home

Debt to income ratio for a second homeLenders use a simple ratio to compare the amount of monthly income to the total monthly debt paid monthly. Here's how the debt ratio is calculated. Let's say that the total debt paid each adds up to $1,000 (i.e., car payment, credit card, etc.) and the GROSS monthly income is $2,000. Divide the monthly debt by the monthly income. $1,000/$2,000 = 50%. The debt ratio for a second home mortgage is 45%, but, the automated underwriting system may allow a higher debt ratio.

Lenders Face Greater Risk

Lenders face greater risk when the economy is struggling. This is because people are more likely to default on their loans when they're facing financial difficulties. As a result, lenders often charge higher interest rates during periods of economic uncertainty. This can make it more difficult for borrowers to get the financing they need, and it can also lead to higher levels of debt for those who are able to obtain loans.

Can I pay for my second home mortgage with rental income?

You may be asking if rental income can be used to help qualify for a second home mortgage if you plan to rent out your property to supplement your mortgage payments.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, when applying for a mortgage on a second home, the majority of lenders will only consider 75% of your rental income when considering your eligibility. Therefore, if your monthly mortgage payment is $2,000, you would need at least $3,000 in rental income to cover it. Additionally, Fannie Mae requires that borrowers keep at least six months' worth of mortgage payments in reserve when refinancing a house mortgage or obtaining a new mortgage loan for a vacation home. Therefore, if your monthly mortgage payment is $2,000, you would need to set aside $12,000. Lastly, there are tax ramifications associated with buying a second house, so consult a tax professional before making any decisions.

How to Afford the Costs of Purchasing a Second Home

Second home on the beachMany people dream of a second home, but the costs can seem prohibitive. However, there are ways to make it more affordable. One option is to rent out your primary residence and use the rental income to help cover the costs of a second home purchase. Another option is to take advantage of home equity. If you have equity in your primary residence, you may be able to use it as a down payment on a second home. You may also be able to obtain a mortgage with better terms. Additionally, closing costs are often lower for second home buyers. If you are considering buying a second home, talk to a lender about your options and compare costs before making a decision.

Can you get a mortgage on a vacation property or second home?

  1. Here’s how:
    Talk to a lender about getting pre-approved for a loan. This will give you an idea of how much money you can borrow.
  2. Find a second home or vacation property that you like and make an offer to purchase it.
  3. If your offer is accepted, work with the lender to get financing for the property.
    Once the loan is approved, you will need to make a down payment and close on the property.


In conclusion, a conventional loan may be a good option for financing a second home. It is important to understand the requirements and restrictions associated with these loans in order to make an informed decision. By doing your research and consulting with a lender, you can determine if a conventional loan is the right choice for you.

What is Required for a Second Home?
Occupancy Types

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  3. FHA or Conventional Loan: Which is right for you?