Getting a investment property loan involves careful planning, research, and attention to detail. Evaluating your financial situation, choosing the right type of rental property financing, preparing the necessary documents, and securing pre-approval are key steps. Investing in rental properties can be a lucrative endeavor, offering a steady stream of income and long-term financial stability. However, securing a rental property loan is a crucial step in realizing this investment opportunity.
What Is an Investment Property Loan?
Securing financing for an investment property, one that you do not intend to use as your primary residence, is akin to obtaining a mortgage for an owner-occupied home.
It’s worth noting that the interest rates and fees associated with investment property loans are typically higher. This is due to the increased risk of default in the eyes of lenders. It is essential to bear in mind that different types of lenders may require distinct sets of documentation when you are applying for investment property loans.
How to Get an Investment or Rental Property Loan
In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to get an investment property loan and provide valuable insights into the various aspects of this process.
1. Evaluate Your Financial Position
Before you embark on the journey of obtaining a rental property mortgage, it’s crucial to assess your financial situation. Lenders will scrutinize your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and cash reserves. The higher your credit score and the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the more attractive you become to lenders. Additionally, having cash reserves for unforeseen expenses can enhance your eligibility.
2. Determine the Type of Investment Property Loans
There are various types of rental property loans, each with its own terms and conditions. The most common types include:
Conventional Loans: These loans are available from banks, credit unions, and other traditional lending institutions. They typically require higher credit scores and down payments.
FHA Loans: FHA offers government-backed loans that are often more accessible, requiring a lower down payment. They are primarily suitable for first-time investors.
Private Lenders: Private lenders and hard money lenders offer alternative financing options, though they often come with higher interest rates and shorter terms.
Portfolio Loans: These investment property loans are offered by smaller community banks and are not subject to conventional underwriting guidelines. They provide more flexibility for real estate investors.
Home Equity Loans and Credit: If you own your primary residence and have substantial equity, you can leverage it to fund your rental property purchase.
Choosing the right type of home loan depends on your financial situation, investment goals, and eligibility.
3. Research and Select the Right Property
Once you have a clear understanding of your financial position and the type of loan you intend to pursue, it’s time to research and select the right rental property. Consider factors such as location, property type, market demand, and potential rental income. Choosing the right property is a critical part of the process, as it directly affects the loan terms and your investment’s success.
4. Prepare a Solid Business Plan
Lenders want to see that you have a well-thought-out business plan for your rental property. This plan should include details about the property’s potential rental income, expenses, and cash flow projections. A comprehensive business plan demonstrates your commitment to the investment and your ability to manage it successfully.
5. Accumulate the Necessary Documents
Investment property loan applications require several documents to validate your financial situation and the property’s details. Some of the essential documents include:
Proof of Income: Recent pay stubs, tax returns, or income statements.
Credit Report: A comprehensive report detailing your credit history and score.
Property Details: Information about the rental property, such as its purchase price, income potential, and expenses.
Bank Statements: Proof of your financial reserves and capacity to cover down payments and closing costs for most investment property loans.
6. Get Pre-Approved for an Investment Property Loan
Seeking pre-approval for your rental property loan is highly recommended. Pre-approval not only gives you a clear understanding of your borrowing capacity but also enhances your credibility in the eyes of sellers and real estate agents. Pre-approval typically involves a lender reviewing your financial documents and conducting a preliminary credit check.
7. Compare Lenders and Loan Offers
Once pre-approved, you can begin comparing loan offers from different lenders. Consider factors such as interest rates, loan terms, down payment requirements, and closing costs. It’s advisable to obtain quotes from multiple lenders to ensure that you secure the most favorable terms.
8. Complete the Loan Application
After choosing a lender and loan offer, you will need to complete a formal loan application. This process involves providing all the required documentation, reviewing and signing the loan agreement, and paying any associated fees, such as the appraisal or inspection fees.
9. Undergo the Appraisal and Inspection
Most lenders will require an appraisal and inspection of the rental property. The appraisal determines the property’s market value, while the inspection identifies any potential issues or needed repairs. These steps help protect both you and the lender.
10. Await Loan Approval and Closing
Once your application is submitted, the lender will conduct a comprehensive review of your financial and property information. If all goes well, the lender will approve the loan, and you will proceed to the closing stage. During closing, you will finalize the purchase, sign all necessary documents, and officially become the owner of the rental property.
Additionally, before applying for an investment property loan, you should conduct thorough property research, obtaining multiple loan offers, and completing the application process will help you secure the financing you need for your investment property.
Millions of Americans rent instead of own, so it is often a good move to buy a rental property. If you manage it well, it’s possible to earn passive cash flow every month without doing too much. If you decide that you want to buy a rental property in the US, below are the essential steps.
First, you will need to arrange financing, unless you would rather buy it in cash. If you need to get a mortgage, know that it’s a bit more complicated to get a loan for an investment property. There are usually higher interest rates, bigger down payments, and more stringent underwriting with investment properties. You will probably need to put down at least 20% on your rental home, and expect to need a 720 credit score for the best rates.
Next, you will need to provide plenty of documentation to get your rental property loan: proof of income, tax returns, and bank statements. Some lenders may want to see six months of cash reserves to do a investment property loan.
Second, you should have a complete understanding of the potential return on your rental property. Some of the things you will need to know to determine your ROI are:
- Figure out what your annual rental income is from the rental property, including monthly rent and extra income such as pet fees
- Estimate your yearly property expenses, such as repairs and maintenance, property management costs, taxes, and insurance
- Anticipate the annual cash flow by subtracting your expenses from total revenues
- Figure out how much cash you need to put down as well as repairs
- Determine your ROI by dividing the yearly cash flow by the total invested
Third, now that you know what your income will be after expenses, you can find a rental property. Many property investors by homes in their area but you don’t have to do that. It’s important to make sure you are buying a home with good income potential. If you buy something in a bad area, it could wind up costing you money.
Some things to consider for areas where you are thinking about buying a rental home:
- Population and employment growth in the city and county
- How many people rent vs. own
- Whether rents are rising and vacancy rates are dropping or rising
- Home appreciation in recent years, which may increase the value of your asset
- How safe and well regarded the neighborhood is
- What the property tax rate is for the city and state
There are many online places to look for rental properties. Some of the most popular are realtor.com, trulia.com, and Zillow.com. But many of these listings are for primary home buyers. You also can look for rental properties in Craig’s List, and don’t forget to check out property wholesaler websites in your community. Some investors also try to buy foreclosed properties, which can help you get a good deal.
Fourth, you may want to consider hiring a property manager to manage your rental home. While you can run the place yourself, it can become more challenging once you own more than one or two properties. Being a landlord can take a lot of time. You need to handle finding and screening good tenants, collecting rent, and doing regular inspections and repairs.
Some landlords do all this themselves, but others may have a full-time job so they can’t do it on their own.
The good news is you can hire a skilled property manager to do most of the work for you. If you hire a good property manager, they will take about 10% of the monthly rent to handle repairs, rent collection, and tenant screening.
Many landlords like to hire a property manager because it allows them to be mostly hands-off with their investment. If you hire a property manager, keep a close eye on vacancies and expenses. It’s not unusual for even skilled property managers to not do as good a job after a year or two. You can always find another property manager, so review the numbers every year on each property.
Fifth, it’s very important when you buy a rental property to closely track income and expenses. Even for the experienced investing, keeping track of these things can take a lot of work.
Some of the things you need to watch every month are:
- Monthly rental income for each property
- How much in security deposits you took in
- How much extra income in terms of pet, storage, and laundry fees
- Leasing fees
- Fees for the property manager
- Pest control
- Property taxes
- HOA costs
- Insurance expenses
You can keep track of these things with a regular spreadsheet or notebook. But many property investors use dedicated property management software to handle the task. You can also use property management software on your cell phone to make things as easy as possible.
Takeaway on Buying a Rental Property
Buying and holding rental property is one of the best ways to grow passive cash flow over time. If you follow the tips above, you can find a great property.
But remember these additional tips:
- Buying rental properties and being successful requires a long-term view. You won’t get rich overnight.
- Watch the financials carefully on your properties to make sure they are profitable. This means looking often at ROI, cap rate, cash flow, and cash on cash return.
- Analyze the general real estate market in the area you are considering before making a commitment.
If you want to get a good mortgage deal on your first rental property, considering buying a three or four-unit apartment building and living in one of the units. If you live in the property, you may qualify for a low interest rate with FHA financing.
You also can combine your primary resident and investment property mortgage costs and save yourself a lot of money every month. But you need to live in the property to qualify for an FHA loan.