What is an 80/20 Mortgage? Exploring the Pros and Cons

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Are you a potential homebuyer looking for ways to make your dream of owning a house a reality? One option you may have come across is an 80/20 mortgage. But what exactly is an 80/20 mortgage, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll delve into the details of this mortgage structure and explore its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the ins and outs of an 80/20 mortgage is crucial before making any financial commitments.

Understanding the Basics of an 80/20 Mortgage

An 80/20 mortgage, also known as a piggyback loan, is a type of financing that allows homebuyers to purchase a property without making a substantial down payment. The structure consists of two loans: the first mortgage covers 80% of the home’s purchase price, while the second mortgage covers the remaining 20%. This combination allows borrowers to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) which is typically required when the down payment is less than 20%.

While the first mortgage is usually obtained from a traditional lender, such as a bank or credit union, the second mortgage is often provided by the same lender or a different financial institution. It’s important to note that the second mortgage usually comes with a higher interest rate and a shorter repayment term.

Advantages of an 80/20 Mortgage

Enhanced Affordability and Reduced Down Payment

One of the major advantages of an 80/20 mortgage is the reduced down payment requirement. Traditional mortgages often demand a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price, which can be a significant barrier for many potential homebuyers. With an 80/20 mortgage, you can secure financing with as little as 0% to 10% down payment, making it more accessible for those who don’t have substantial savings.

Avoidance of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Another financial benefit of an 80/20 mortgage is the ability to bypass the need for private mortgage insurance. PMI is an additional monthly cost that lenders typically impose on borrowers who make a down payment of less than 20%. By utilizing an 80/20 mortgage, you eliminate this extra expense, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars each month.

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Potential Tax Benefits

In some cases, the interest paid on both the first and second mortgages of an 80/20 loan may be tax-deductible. However, it’s essential to consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax implications based on your individual circumstances. Taking advantage of potential tax benefits can provide additional savings and make an 80/20 mortgage even more appealing.

Increased Purchasing Power and Flexibility

The structure of an 80/20 mortgage allows homebuyers to increase their purchasing power. By financing a larger portion of the purchase price, you may be able to afford a home that would otherwise be out of reach. Additionally, this type of mortgage offers flexibility in terms of the down payment amount, enabling borrowers to allocate their funds elsewhere, such as towards home improvements or other investments.

Disadvantages of an 80/20 Mortgage

Higher Interest Rates and Potentially Unaffordable Payments

While an 80/20 mortgage provides an opportunity to secure financing with a lower down payment, it often comes with higher interest rates compared to traditional mortgages. The second mortgage, in particular, may carry a significantly higher interest rate, resulting in higher monthly payments. It’s crucial to carefully assess your financial situation and ensure that you can comfortably afford the combined mortgage payments before committing to an 80/20 mortgage.

Limited Options for Refinancing

Refinancing an 80/20 mortgage can be challenging due to the unique structure of the loan. Since the second mortgage typically has a shorter term, it may require refinancing separately from the first mortgage, which can be complicated and costly. Additionally, if property values decline, refinancing may become even more difficult, potentially leaving borrowers with limited options if they need to adjust their mortgage terms.

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Potential Negative Equity Risk

One of the risks associated with an 80/20 mortgage is the potential for negative equity. Negative equity occurs when the outstanding mortgage balance exceeds the current value of the property. Since the second mortgage typically has a higher interest rate and a shorter repayment term, it may take longer to build equity in the property. In a declining housing market, this can leave homeowners vulnerable to owing more on their mortgage than the property is worth.

Difficulty in Sourcing Lenders Offering 80/20 Mortgages

Finding lenders who offer 80/20 mortgages can be a challenge, as not all financial institutions provide this type of financing. It’s crucial to do thorough research and explore various lenders to find those who specialize in piggyback loans. Working with an experienced mortgage broker can also help navigate the process and connect you with lenders who offer 80/20 mortgages.

FAQs about 80/20 Mortgages

What are the main requirements to qualify for an 80/20 mortgage?

To qualify for an 80/20 mortgage, lenders typically consider factors such as credit score, debt-to-income ratio, employment history, and the property’s value. Meeting these requirements can increase your chances of securing this type of financing.

Can I use an 80/20 mortgage for investment properties?

In most cases, 80/20 mortgages are designed for primary residences and may not be available for investment properties. However, it’s essential to consult with lenders and explore alternative financing options if you’re considering purchasing an investment property.

Are there any alternatives to an 80/20 mortgage?

Yes, there are alternatives to an 80/20 mortgage, including FHA loans, conventional mortgages with lower down payment options, or seeking financial assistance from state or local homebuyer programs. It’s essential to evaluate multiple options and choose the one that best fits your financial goals and circumstances.

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How can I find lenders offering 80/20 mortgages?

Researching online, consulting with mortgage brokers, and reaching out to various financial institutions are effective ways to find lenders who specialize in 80/20 mortgages.

Is it possible to refinance an 80/20 mortgage?

Refinancing an 80/20 mortgage is possible, but it can be complex and may require refinancing the first and second mortgages separately. It’s crucial to assess the costs and benefits of refinancing and consult with professionals to determine the best course of action.

What happens if I default on the second mortgage?

If you default on the second mortgage, the lender has the right to initiate foreclosure proceedings and potentially seize the property. It’s crucial to prioritize timely payments on both the first and second mortgages to avoid the risk of losing your home.


In summary, an 80/20 mortgage can be an attractive option for homebuyers looking to overcome the hurdle of a large down payment. While it offers advantages such as increased affordability, avoidance of PMI, potential tax benefits, and enhanced purchasing power, it’s essential to consider the higher interest rates, limited refinancing options, potential negative equity risk, and the challenge of finding lenders who offer this type of financing.

Before committing to an 80/20 mortgage, take the time to assess your financial situation, consult with professionals, and thoroughly research your options. By understanding the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your long-term financial goals. Remember, owning a home is a significant investment, and it’s crucial to choose the financing option that best suits your needs and circumstances.

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