10-27-17: Should I use a “piggy-back” to buy my new home?

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Question of the week:  Should I use a “piggy-back” to buy my new home?


Answer:  We start our answer to the question with a question many of you may be asking, “what is a ‘piggy-back’?”


Last week we discussed mortgage insurance and how conventional mortgages require mortgage insurance for loans that are over 80% loan-to-value. If you are buying a home for $600,000 (the median price for a home in LA County) and getting a mortgage for more than $480,000 then you need mortgage insurance.


Using a piggy-back enables you to put less than 20% down and avoid mortgage insurance, because the piggy-back is a second loan that bridges the amount between your down payment and your mortgage of 80% of the purchase price.


For example, you want to purchase a home for $600,000 but you only have $60,000 down. Traditionally you would get a mortgage for $540,000 and pay mortgage insurance. Using a piggy-back you would put down $60,000 and get a 2nd loan for $60,000 and have your primary loan be $480,000, which is 80% of the purchase price and therefore you do not need mortgage insurance.


Not all, but almost all, piggy-back mortgages are Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC). What is a HELOC? It is very similar to a credit card, you have a maximum credit limit and you only make payments on the balance you have outstanding. The interest rate on a HELOC is an adjustable tied to the prime rate goes up and down so will the rate on your HELOC.


Another feature of many HELOCs is that the minimum payment is interest only, which makes them very enticing as the interest payment can be very low, however you are not paying down any of the outstanding principal which becomes an issue in later years when you have a very large balance that has to be paid off.


Since the HELOC is used to purchase the home the interest paid on the loan is tax deductible under the current tax code. This is a positive for many families, especially those who are unable to deduct mortgage insurance premiums.


As you can see there are some positive aspects to using a HELOC to purchase your new home, but back to our question of the week: should you use a HELOC to buy your home?


Let’s compare getting a HELOC with using mortgage insurance to purchase the median priced home in LA County of $600,000 with 10% down and you have a credit score of 740.


Let’s start with purchasing with a HELOC. You will have a primary mortgage of $480,000 (80% of purchase price) and a HELOC of $60,000.  The rate on the primary mortgage this morning is 4.00%, the average rate on a HELOC up to 90% total loan to value (combined 80% primary plus 10% HELOC) is Prime Rate plus 2%, today prime is 4.25% so the rate would be 6.25%.


Payment on the primary mortgage is $2292 per month.

The minimum payment on the HELOC is interest only which would be $313 per month*.


The minimum payment you must make is $2605 per month, until the prime rate increases and then your payment will increase as well.


Last year the prime rate was 3.5%, your rate would have been 5.5% for a minimum payment of $275 per month, if the rate increases another three-quarters of a percent in the next year your rate will increase to 8.00% for a payment of $400 per month.


*Most HELOCs are for twenty years, if you want to amortize the payment and include principal the payment at 6.25% would be $439 until the rate changes.


If you purchase using mortgage insurance your primary mortgage will be $540,000 at a rate of 3.875%** and your mortgage insurance premium will be 0.41% of the loan amount.


Primary mortgage payment is $2539 per month.

Your mortgage insurance premium is $185 per month.


Your total payment is $2724 per month as long as you have mortgage insurance, $119 more per month than if you used a HELOC to purchase the home and paid the minimum payment. If you pay additional payments on the HELOC to pay down the principal then you payment purchasing with a HELOC would be higher. As well when the prime rate increases in the future your “savings” with the HELOC will decline.


** It seems counter-intuitive that putting 20% down has a higher rate than putting 10%, however rates are lower for mortgages with mortgage insurance than those without as the lenders are insured for losses should you default. If you default on a mortgage that is 80% of the value of the property the lender will lose 10-20% of the loan amount. If you have mortgage insurance on a 90% loan the lender is covered on losses up to 25% of the value of the mortgage. Even though the risk of loss may be higher with 10% down, the amount of loss to the lender should you go to foreclosure is less than if you had mortgage insurance.


Note the statement above, “as long as you have mortgage insurance…” Those who read last week’s WR&MU will recall that after you make 24 consecutive payments on time and can show you have 20% equity in the property then you can have your mortgage insurance premium released. So between your mortgage principal declining through your payments and the market increasing you let’s assume you will have that 20% in four years (had you purchased the median priced home in LA County in 2015 you would be able to remove your MI this year) after purchasing your property. At that time you go through the process and have your MI payment removed, saving $185 per month, or $2220 per year.


The only way to remove your HELOC payment is to pay it off, and unless you have the ability to make very large payments over the years it will likely take you quite some time to pay off the loan.


Depending on your financial situation, and ability to pay down/off the HELOC rather quickly through sale of another property, large bonuses, etc, for most families the long term best option is to purchase their home using mortgage insurance that will have fixed payments, and the ability to remove the MI premium payments in the future, as opposed to a large equity line tied to a rate, the prime rate, that will be going up over the next few years.


Please call me to discuss your situation and determine the best way for you to purchase your new home. And if you have a HELOC, or mortgage insurance, from a  previous transaction call me to see what your options are to possibly lower your monthly payments, or keep them the same and fix your total monthly payment.


Have a question? Ask me!


Remember, with Dennis it’s not just a mortgage, it’s your complete financial picture.


Economic data released this week for September shows strength building. Durable goods orders in September showed a nice gain, even trying to account for Hurricane Harvey. Showing even more strength was the initial Gross Domestic Product numbers for the 3rd Quarter, increasing 3.0%, a strong following from the 2nd Quarter’s 3.1% growth. Inside the numbers we saw strong growth in consumer spending and durable goods purchases-led by vehicle replacement post hurricane. The soft spot was residential real estate, which has been supporting economic growth for the past several years. Inflation was at 2.2% annualized with is within the Fed’s target range. Overall the report is fairly rate unfriendly and puts upward pressure on rates for the long term.


Rates for Friday October 27, 2017: We see the conforming and high-balance conforming rates un-linked this week. For the first time in almost a year the separation between the two rates is greater than one-eighth of one percent (0.125%) as the high-balance rate increased an eighth of a percent this week and the conforming rate remains flat. The last time we saw the one-quarter percent gap between the two mortgages was the week ending November 11, 2016 when we saw rates increase three-quarters of a percent in six weeks following the election. There is upward pressure on rates, the advice is to lock when you can.



30 year conforming                                            3.75%           Flat

30 year high-balance conforming                   4.00%          Up 0.125%

Please note that these are base rates and adjustments may be added for condominiums, refinances, credit scores, loan to value, no impound account and period rate is locked. Rates are based on 20% down with 740 FICO score for purchase mortgages.



Well baseball fans are getting a treat, at least two treats so far with the first two games of the World Series, I am hoping we get five more similarly exciting games.


I will go out on a limb and presume that many (most? all?) of your households are like ours and the Halloween candy purchased in preparation for Tuesday evening has been thoroughly tested and perhaps the testing has gone so well as to require another purchase of candy for the witches, princesses, firefighter and bumble-bees on Tuesday night. Halloween candy, the official start to the end of the year belt-tolerance limit as we flow from the candy to Thanksgiving to Christmas and the non-stop treats, pies, cakes, etc for the next sixty plus days.


Stay strong, say no to yourself and Think Blue,







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