What Is an 80-10-10 Loan?

Definition & Examples of an 80-10-10 Loan

Couple entering into home buying agreement with lender
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An 80-10-10 loan is a mortgage structure whereby you pay 80% of the home's purchase price via a main mortgage, another 10% as a second mortgage, and a final 10% as a down payment.

Learn how an 80-10-10 loan works and its advantages and disadvantages to figure out if it's the right financing option for you.

What Is an 80-10-10 Loan?

An 80-10-10 loan is a kind of "piggyback" mortgage structured in a way that the borrower simultaneously takes out a main mortgage amounting to 80% of the home's purchase price and a second mortgage that piggybacks on the main mortgage for another 10% of the price. You cover the remaining 10% of the price as a down payment.

A "second" mortgage is termed as such because this loan is paid off after the first loan if you can't pay your mortgages and have to sell your home to repay the debt.

How an 80-10-10 Loan Works

Homebuyers should ideally make a down payment of at least 20% and obtain a mortgage for no more than 80% of the home's purchase price. If you get a conventional loan and don't make a down payment of that amount, you'll ordinarily need to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). If, say, you make a down payment of only 10%, you'll need to get a mortgage with PMI for 90% of the home's purchase price.

The 80-10-10 loan allows borrowers who can't make a 20% down payment to avoid paying PMI, as the second mortgage supplements the down payment by 10%. It also allows homebuyers to get a high-priced home without the need for a jumbo loan. With an 80-10-10 loan, the borrower still obtains financing for 90% of the home's purchase price, but they do so by taking out two mortgages at the same time. The first loan is a main mortgage for 80% of the home’s purchase price, issued at a standard interest rate. The second loan is for 10% of the purchase price and typically takes the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) with a variable (and typically higher) interest rate. The borrower makes a down payment for the remaining 10% of the purchase price.

For example, let's say that you buy a home with a purchase price of $300,000. Under an 80-10-10 loan, you might take out a main mortgage for $240,000, a HELOC for $30,000, and make a down payment of $30,000.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 80-10-10 Loans

These loans have their advantages and drawbacks:

What We Like
  • It keeps you from paying mortgage insurance

  • It avoids the need for a jumbo loan

What We Don't Like
  • Variable interest rates on the second loan

  • Difficulty in refinancing

Advantages Explained

The pros of an 80-10-10 loan include:

  • It keeps you from paying mortgage insurance: The main benefit of getting a piggyback loan is that it spares you from the costly PMI that is typically assessed on conventional home loans when you don't make a down payment of at least 20% of the home's purchase price. PMI is usually added to your total monthly loan payment to your lender. It may force you to reduce your spending on other important monthly expenses.
  • It avoids the need for a jumbo loan: If you have your eye on a high-priced home but have either a high income that isn't readily available (from a new job, for example) or high-value but illiquid assets, the second loan in an 80-10-10 loan arrangement can boost your borrowing power so that you don't have to take out a jumbo loan. This is a loan that allows borrowers to exceed the federal loan limits, but it can be difficult to find as well as require a high down payment.

A conventional loan is one from a non-governmental source. But certain types of government loans, such as FHA loans, also require mortgage insurance, and you may have to pay for a portion of the insurance costs at closing and another portion through monthly premiums.

Disadvantages Explained

Among the cons of an 80-10-10 loan are:

  • Variable interest rates on the second loan: The interest rate for the first mortgage may be fixed or variable. The interest rate of the second mortgage or home equity loan is a higher rate that is usually variable and changes with the level of interest rates in the economy. A variable interest rate can be a disadvantage during a period of rising interest rates or inflation. If your rate rises, so will your loan costs.
  • Difficulty in refinancing: The 80-10-10 loan is difficult to refinance because the lenders of both the first and second mortgage (assuming they are different) have to agree to the refinancing. You may have an even harder time convincing both lenders to refinance if the value of your home has declined.

Requirements for an 80-10-10 Loan

During the housing boom in the 2000s, growing home prices and lax underwriting standards made this type of loan widely available, and with lax requirements. Minimal down payments were required, meaning that a home could be financed almost in full. But such lax measures also led to higher rates of mortgage default when market conditions declined. Banks and other lenders have since tightened up their lending standards, and applicants are screened more thoroughly.

Below are a few requirements to keep in mind when applying for an 80-10-10 loan:

  • Credit score: Your credit score will dictate the interest rate and terms you receive on the first and second loans. Lenders typically require a FICO score of at least 620 for those seeking a second mortgage, which is the same minimum score you'll need for a conventional home loan. But historically, second-mortgage holders have been more creditworthy than those with a single lien. This is in part because of the higher risk for the lender with a second mortgage; a decline in the value of a home may mean that the collateral won't be enough to cover the second lien after the first lien has been paid off.
  • Financial documentation: The borrower should be prepared to supply information to the lender such as their income and the market value of the home. Two sets of documentation may even have to be provided as it is possible that the first mortgage and second mortgage or home equity loan would be provided by two different lenders. Those two different lenders could also ask for different types of documentation.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: As with a first mortgage, your debt-to-income ratio (your monthly debt divided by your gross monthly income) should be no more than 43% to secure a second mortgage.

80-10-10 Loan vs. PMI

Lenders may recommend a piggyback loan as an alternative to paying PMI, but they're not the same offering.

Namely, an 80-10-10 loan is a loan structure that homebuyers can use to avoid paying PMI. In contrast, PMI is a type of mortgage insurance you may have to get with a conventional loan if you make a down payment of less than 20% of the home's purchase price, and the lender handles mortgage insurance through a private company. The insurance provides lenders the assurance that if a home goes into foreclosure, the lender won’t take a loss.

PMI is an extra charge that is typically added to the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment. It usually amounts to a small percentage of the amount of the main mortgage—anywhere from 0.5% to 6%—which may be manageable for a small mortgage but can be a burden with a large mortgage. This makes an 80-10-10 particularly attractive to borrowers who are interested in high-dollar mortgages but can't cover a typical down payment.

That said, the interest on the second loan in the 80-10-10 loan may be higher or lower than the PMI on a conventional loan, depending on factors such as how long you stay in the home. This means an 80-10-10 mortgage might be more expensive than a conventional loan with PMI in certain cases. Borrowers should do their due diligence and get an estimate of the total loan costs under each scenario to decide which is more affordable.

80-10-10 Loan PMI
Is a loan structure that avoids mortgage insurance Is a type of mortgage insurance
Represents a large percentage of the home's purchase price Represents a small percentage of the loan principal
Carries high interest costs May be higher or lower than the interest costs on an 80-10-10 loan
Benefits borrowers seeking high-dollar mortgages Is more affordable for those low-dollar mortgages

Key Takeaways

  • An 80-10-10 loan refers to a mortgage structure with a main mortgage, second mortgage, and down payment amounting to 80%, 10%, and another 10% of a home's purchase price, respectively.
  • The structure benefits homebuyers who can't make a typical down payment but want to avoid PMI or who seek a high-dollar mortgage and want to avoid a jumbo loan.
  • High second-loan interest costs and difficulty in refinancing mean that the loan isn't always a better option than a conventional loan with PMI. Buyers should do a cost analysis of both options to determine which is right for their needs.

Article Sources

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a “Piggyback” Second Mortgage?" Accessed July 29, 2020.

  2. Federal Housing Finance Agency. "The Relationship between Second Liens, First Mortgage Outcomes, and Borrower Credit: 1996‐2010," Page 1. Accessed July 29, 2020.

  3. Experian. "What Credit Score Do I Need to Get a Mortgage?" Accessed July 29, 2020.

  4. Experian. "What Is a Second Mortgage?" Accessed July 29, 2020.

  5. Texas Department of Insurance. "Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)." Accessed July 29, 2020.