Financing a Multi-Unit Residential Property

Whether you are looking for a home for a family member or want to create a new income stream by becoming a landlord, a multiunit residential property may be just what you need.

Multiunit properties with two to four units may be financed using the same mortgage programs you would use to purchase a single-family home. Anything larger would be considered a commercial property.

It’s important to be aware that, if you are planning on renting out one or more of the units, you, the buyer, must live in one of them as your primary residence. Unless you do, you would have what lenders would consider an investment property, and you would be unable to finance it using traditional residential financing.

Down payments

If you are looking for conventional financing, meaning a Fannie Mae loan, and you are planning on taking out a fixed rate mortgage, plan on a 15% to 25% down payment, depending on the number of units. With FHA you can put down as little as 3.5% for a two-unit property, and as much as 5% on one with three or four units.

Rental income

In purchasing a multiunit property, Fannie Mae differs from FHA when it comes to using rental income to qualify. With Fannie, future rental income (as established by an appraiser as fair market value for the area) can be used to qualify for a mortgage; however, for an FHA mortgage, you’ll need two years of proof of landlord experience if you want to use some rental income to qualify.

In any case, you’ll only be able to claim 75% of it as income, as there is what is called an occupancy rate in place.

Financing a residential multiunit property can be challenging. Involve your mortgage professional at the beginning of the process; he or she can help you select the financing option that’s right for you.

Renting to Own Can Jumpstart Your Move to Home Ownership

If you are either short of a down payment or have credit challenges to overcome (and if you are prepared to overcome them), a rent-to-own property may be a good – even great – way to move toward home ownership.

Typically, a rent-to-own agreement, also known as a land contract, is an arrangement between a property owner/landlord and a tenant. The expectation is that at some point the tenant will purchase the property for a fixed price on a predetermined date, providing, of course, that he or she can become qualified to do so. That may mean repairing or rebuilding that credit over the period you are renting your potential home.

To safeguard the property owner, most contracts require a nonrefundable deposit in the event that you are unable to become qualified to purchase the property.

If you are seriously thinking about entering into one of these agreements – and don’t want to lose your deposit – your mortgage professional should be part of the process from the very beginning. He or she will pull your credit then prepare a strategy to get you where you need to be in the allotted time frame.

This time frame is key: credit repair can take one or more months, and it’s extremely important that you realize this and set your expectations appropriately.

You probably won’t be using a real estate agent in this process, so it’s vital you have a real estate attorney to review your contract and answer questions that come up during the process.