How to Get an Investment Property Loan With 10 Percent Down

How to Get an Investment Property Loan With 10 Percent Down

How to Get an Investment Property Loan With 10 Percent Down

The right investment property can help you generate rental income. If you can’t, or don’t want to, pay cash, you’ll need an investment property loan. The right investment property loan can make all the difference in whether or not your investment property is profitable—or a financial burden.

Here’s how to find investment property loans and decide how to move forward with your real estate investing business.

What Is an Investment Property Loan?

Just like you can take out a loan to buy a home for yourself, you can do the same if you plan to invest in rental properties or fix and flips. Whether you want to buy a rental property or an apartment building, an investment property loan can help you do that. 

These loans often come with higher down payment requirements and higher interest rates, though. If your funds for a down payment are limited, you may need to research loan options to find one that works for your financial situation. 

Benefits of Investment Property Loans

There are several potential benefits of these types of loans over conventional mortgages:

  1. May not require credit check or good credit
  2. Less personal financial documentation required
  3. Can often close quickly
  4. Lenders understand rental property market

Overall, investment property loans are designed for investors so they tend to be more focused on the property than on the investor. In other words, they will treat you as a business owner, rather than a home buyer trying to finance a home to live in.

How Investment Property Loans Work

Similar to the way a personal mortgage works, an investment property loan provides the funds you need to purchase a house, multifamily property, commercial property, or land. You are expected to make a down payment toward a minimum percentage

The property you’re buying acts as collateral for the loan. If you’re unable to pay the loan in full, the lender has the right to seize the property to sell and cover your debt.

How Much Do You Need to Put Down on an Investment Property?

Qualifying for investment property financing can be more challenging than you might expect, especially if you’re a new property investor. Many first-time real estate investors are surprised to learn that a 20-15% down payment on a rental property loan is considered normal. 

A 20-25% down payment can be a sizable amount, depending upon the purchase price of the property. Imagine you want to buy a $500,000 multifamily dwelling. If the lender requires 20% down, you’d need to come up with $100,000 in cash to seal the deal. If it requires a 25% down payment, you’ll need $125,000 up front.

Can I Find an Investment Property Loan with 10 Percent Down?

A sizable down payment is standard when you take out investment property loans. But you may be able to buy an investment property with as little as 10%, 3.5%, or even 0% down. 

Loan programs like HomeReady and Home Possible make purchasing an investment property with 10% down or less a possibility. To qualify, you’ll need to satisfy a lender’s approval criteria. In addition to more stringent credit score and cash reserve requirements, you may need to do the following: 

  • Become an owner-occupant and move into the property for a minimum of one year.
  • Supplemental renter or boarder income allowed.
  • Show proof of income high enough to qualify for the loan, but below the local median income.

Either loan may work for owner-occupied investment properties. But they’ll also appear on your personal credit reports with Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The mortgage could impact your credit for good or bad, based upon whether or not you make all your payments on time.

Let’s dive deeper into these two programs.

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady Loan Program

One option that can work well for buyers looking to purchase a home with a smaller down payment is Fannie Mae’s HomeReady Loan Program. Qualified buyers may be able to secure a fixed-rate mortgage rate for as little as 3% down. 

This mortgage loan program is designed to help moderate- to low-income borrowers with decent credit become homeowners. The HomeReady loan program may work well for owner-occupants who wish to rent out a portion of their home (or a multi-home unit) to help cover the cost of housing. 

Here’s why the HomeReady program can be helpful to owner-occupant investors. The program lets borrowers include income from “accessory units and borders” for qualification purposes. Don’t earn enough income to satisfy the lender’s debt-to-income ratio requirements? The rent money you’ll collect on the property might help you qualify. 

You’ll need to supply acceptable documentation for rental income to count on your loan application. Lenders may accept a lease or a Fannie Mae Single-Family Comparable Rent Schedule from the property appraiser as proof of the income source. 

Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Loan Program

Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgage offers low-income borrowers the opportunity to purchase a home with as little as 3% down. If you wish to use the program to finance an investment property, one of the borrowers must live in the home (or at least a portion of a multi-unit property) but co-borrowers may live outside of the home.

Again, your lender may be able to count rental income while calculating your debt-to-income ratio. But the rental income will need to satisfy Freddie Mac guidelines. For example, you’ll need to prove that your renter has lived with you for at least a year and plans to continue residing at the new residence. 

Even with a lower credit score, you may be able to qualify for a mortgage loan through the Home Possible program. But you may need to provide a larger down payment of 5%. 

What Are the Most Common Investment Property Loans?

Living in a home you later hope to rent out can be an affordable way to become a real estate investor — especially in urban areas and parts of the country where the cost of homeownership is high. Instead of trying to come up with 20% down, you may be able to purchase a property for much less out of pocket. 

Yet be aware that when you provide a smaller down payment, the lender may require you to pay for mortgage insurance on your loan. This added fee can offset some of the potential savings you might secure with a lower interest rate.

Below are several small business loans and programs specifically for investment properties that may help you save money if you’re interested in the owner-occupant path. 

FHA Loan

One of your loan options is an FHA mortgage, which the Federal Housing Administration insures. Because the government backs the loan, FHA-approved lenders may be willing to lend money (or extend lower interest rates) to borrowers usually considered higher risk. Even with income limitations or credit challenges, there’s a chance a lender could approve your application. 

One of the best perks of qualifying for an FHA loan is the low 3.5% down payment. Interest rates on FHA loans are often more affordable as well.

You can use an FHA loan to purchase a home with up to four units, as long as you plan to live in the property personally. But there are limits on the amount you can borrow, based on the location of the property.

VA Loan

A VA loan is another mortgage that’s insured by the government. If you qualify for a VA mortgage, you may be able to purchase up to a four-unit property with no down payment.

Only eligible borrowers can take advantage of VA loan benefits, including: 

  • Active-Duty Service Members 
  • Honorably Discharged Veterans
  • Qualifying Members of the National Guard or Reservists 
  • Eligible Surviving Spouses

Like FHA loans, you’ll need to live in at least one of the units yourself if you want to use VA financing to purchase a rental property. But after a year, you might be able to take out a new VA loan on another property and repeat the process. Note: You’ll generally need enough remaining entitlement to be approved for another VA loan. 


A USDA loan is a government-backed mortgage with no down payment requirement. The low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage loans help low- and moderate-income borrowers finance “safe and sanitary dwellings” in rural areas. If you qualify, you can use a USDA loan to purchase single-family or multi-family housing. 

To qualify for a loan, you’ll need to satisfy a lender’s requirements, including the following: 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a Green Card. 
  • The property must be in an eligible rural area, per the USDA
  • You must live in the home. 

Conventional Mortgage

A conventional lender can also offer a loan that can be used to purchase investment properties — multi-family units or otherwise. But the down payment requirements for investment loans are generally higher with a conventional loan. 

If you plan to be an owner-occupant, you’ll often encounter less stringent loan approval criteria. Down payments on owner-occupied homes can be as low as 5% to 10% with conventional mortgages. 

It’s also worth noting that you may save money on interest fees if you plan to make your rental property your primary residence. Mortgage rates can commonly be 0.5% to 0.875% lower in this scenario compared with an investment property mortgage rate.

FHA 203k Rehab Loans

Do you want to purchase an investment property that needs repairs? If so, FHA 203k mortgage insurance could be a helpful financing solution. The government-backed mortgage gives you the means to purchase a property and covers the cost of repairs with a single loan.

Like traditional FHA loans, you may be able to get a fixed-rate loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%. But you’ll need to live in the home if you plan to use this strategy for a rental property purchase. For instance, if you want to buy a multi-family property and reside in one unit while renting out the others, the loan might work for you. 

NACA Loans

NACA stands for Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. It’s a nonprofit program that aims to promote affordable home ownership in urban and rural areas throughout the country.

Through the NACA mortgage program, qualified borrowers can enjoy benefits like zero down payment costs, no closing costs, and no fees of any kind. Interest rates are competitive, and your credit history doesn’t need to be perfect to qualify. 

You can take out a NACA loan for single-family homes and multi-family properties. But you must make the home (or at least one of the units) your primary residence to use a NACA mortgage for an investment property. You’ll also need to both take and host classes to satisfy NACA program requirements. 

Down Payment Assistance Programs

When you plan to live in the property that you’ll also be renting to others, you may qualify for down payment assistance. Down payment assistance programs can make purchasing more attainable when you don’t have a lump sum of cash stashed away. 

Whether down payment assistance programs are available primarily depends upon the type of loan you’re using to purchase your owner-occupied rental. Your state may also have down payment assistance programs to help its residents as well.

Want to review home loan and down payment assistance programs available in your state? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides resources to help you start the search.

Comparison of Investment Property Loans vs. Primary Residence Loans

Investment Property LoanPrimary Residence Loans
Owner does not have to live in propertyDesigned for owner occupancy
Down payment of 20% may be requiredLow down payments may be available
Higher interest ratesLower interest rates with good credit
May be credit flexiblePersonal credit will help determine rate

Are There SBA Loans for Investment Property?

If you’re familiar with the low-interest small business loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), you might wonder if you can use them for investment property. In fact, you can. The SBA’s 504 loan program can be used to buy property or land, as well as cover improvements and renovations for commercial real estate.

Additional Ways to Buy an Investment Property with 10% Down

Aside from the owner-occupant options detailed above, there are other ways to secure a lower-cost investment property loan. Some methods below are out-of-the-box approaches. Others may represent an increased level of risk. Be sure to research any of the options below carefully before you commit. 

House hacking

The term “house hacking” describes a real estate investment strategy often used with multi-family homes. You (the investor) live in one unit of the property, and you lease out the other units to tenants.

The rent your tenants pay helps cover the cost of your mortgage. Best of all, you might be able to put as little as 3.5% down (possibly 0% down with a VA loan) to secure a fixed-rate mortgage using this approach.

BRRRR method

BRRRR stands for Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat. The term describes a strategy house flippers often use to grow their real estate investment portfolios.

Step one is saving up money to buy an affordable rental property—perhaps a foreclosure or a home in need of repairs. Next, rehabilitate the home strategically—focusing on repairs or upgrades that add the most value. Once the house is ready, you can vet potential tenants and rent it out. This guide, with 11 steps on how to become a landlord, may help you complete the first three steps of the BRRRR process. 

Once you’ve rented out the home for at least 6-12 months, you may qualify for a cash-out refinance on your property. From there, you can take the equity you borrowed against for the new mortgage and repeat the process.

Hard money

Hard money loans offer an alternative way for real estate investors to borrow money. The financing (often short-term bridge loans) is generally not provided by banks, but by private lenders or individual investors.

A hard money bridge loan generally features higher rates and fees than traditional financing. They can also be risky and, sometimes, predatory. Be sure to vet a potential hard money lender carefully and review contracts in detail before you commit.

Private money

Although it’s unusual, you could consider borrowing money from private, wealthy individuals you know personally. This strategy requires approaching family or friends to ask for a loan or investment partner. 

The down payment size on such a loan can vary widely from one experience to the next. It all depends on the individual you’re asking and what he or she wants to require. 

There’s also an added risk with this type of private money loan—the risk of damaging a personal relationship. Make sure to count this cost carefully upfront. If something goes wrong and you can’t repay as agreed, you could create a stressful situation.

Private money lenders may also offer short-term loans you can use for investment property purchases. However, this type of financing generally falls under the category of “hard money” and is likely to feature higher interest rates and fees.

Off-market properties

An off-market property is one that isn’t publicly advertised on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or similar online portals. Sometimes, it’s a property that’s for sale by owner or one that the owner hasn’t even decided to sell yet. Sellers may choose to sell off-market to generate intrigue and, hopefully, demand a higher sales price.

Real estate investors may also sell off-market properties wholesale. These properties may be purchased with no down payment, but they’re often tough to find and need to sell quickly when they become available.

Get a real estate license

Becoming a licensed realtor may give you an edge as a real estate investor. This approach won’t directly save you money on down payments. But it might offer you the chance to score better property deals and save on the cost of agent commissions.

Having a real estate license also gives you access to the MLS. You can use this tool to search for properties and check comps of recently sold homes in the same area. Being a licensed real estate agent also gives you more control over the deal and other perks.

But, getting your license requires an investment — both of your money and your time. Generally, it takes around 100 hours of studying, coursework, and exams to qualify for your license. Once you get your license, you’ll need to work under a broker (who will require fees) plus complete continuing education classes every year.

Turnkey and move-in ready rentals

There are two terms you may come across as you search for rental homes: turnkey rentals and move-in ready. The idea behind both terms is that the investment property won’t require renovation or repairs before it’s ready for tenants.

Some turnkey providers offer financing for as little as 5% down. But these loans generally feature high interest rates.

Buying a rental property that you may be able to start earning money from immediately can seem appealing. However, seasoned investors warn these types of investments aren’t always what they seem.

Instead of properties being in good condition for tenants, sellers of move-in ready or turnkey rentals may skip repairs they don’t deem essential. The result may be more frequent tenant turnover and a host of other potential problems.

Line of credit

Do you need help coming up with a down payment for a rental property loan? You might be able to borrow those funds using a line of credit.

If you own another property, you might be able to secure a line of credit with the equity in that home. Loans secured with the equity in your primary residence are known as HELOCs or home equity lines of credit. Loans secured with the equity you have in an investment property are known as single property investment lines of credit.

The added security of pledging an asset to the lender as collateral may help you secure a lower interest rate. Yet although they can be a cheaper way to borrow, lines of credit (especially HELOCs) come with added risk. If something goes wrong and you can’t keep up with your monthly mortgage payment, the bank or credit union might foreclose on the property you pledged as collateral when you took out the loan.

Seller financing

When you make payments directly to the property owner instead of financing your purchase through a lender, standard mortgage rules don’t apply. This type of arrangement is known as seller financing, and it’s rare.

Sellers don’t have minimum down payment requirements they’re required to follow. Rather, sellers decide for themselves the amount they’re comfortable accepting. Interest rates on seller financing agreements tend to be on the high side, but you might be able to negotiate a lower down payment in exchange. It all depends on what that seller feels is fair.


Whether you want to refinance an investment property or your primary mortgage, you may be able to tap into the equity you’ve built up in another property. This is known as a cash-out refinance.

If you qualify for a cash-out refinance, you may be able to access a significant portion of your property’s value. For non-owner occupied homes, your loan-to-value ratio could be as high as 75%, depending upon the lender and various factors.

However, a cash-out refinance can be risky. If something goes wrong and you can’t afford to maintain your monthly payments, you’re risking the property you borrowed against when you took out the loan.

Credit cards

Technically, you may be able to use a cash advance from a credit card (or multiple credit cards) to purchase an investment property. 

Credit card interest rates will be higher than other types of investment property loans or bank loans. Your credit scores could also suffer if your credit reports show a high balance-to-limit ratio on your personal credit card account(s).

As an option instead of using your personal credit cards, business credit cards can help you build business credit — as well as provide an easily accessible source of borrowed capital. You can use a 0% APR business credit card to finance repairs on a fix and flip, for example, then (hopefully) sell or refinance the property before the intro rate expires. Since many business credit cards don’t report to personal credit (unless you default), you may be able to do this with minimal to no impact to your credit scores or your debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

Self-directed IRA

IRAs can offer you tax advantages as long as you follow IRS rules.

With a self-directed IRA, you have the option to make investments beyond typical stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. These alternative investments might include precious metals, businesses, and real estate.

To use this method, start by opening an IRA with a custodian that services self-directed accounts. Alternatively, you can open a checkbook IRA account and manage the investment, record-keeping, and IRS reporting requirements yourself. Either way, you need to learn the rules and understand the risks if you plan to use this approach to invest in real estate.


A 401(k) can also be a tax-friendly way to save for retirement. Often, you can’t invest in real estate directly from your 401(k) account. You can, however, roll over your 401(k)—tax-free—into a self-directed IRA account. After the rollover, you can use the funds to invest in real estate, including commercial real estate.  

But cashing out a large portion of your 401(k) for a real estate investment opportunity is a risk. You could lose the money you invested if things go wrong. You may also be subject to taxes and an early withdrawal penalty if you can’t repay your 401(k) loan.

“Subject to” loans

When you take on what’s called a “subject to” loan, it means you’re taking over mortgage payments on the seller’s existing loan. The property you’re buying is subject to the loan that’s already in place. But you’re not assuming the loan itself.

There may be a difference between the total purchase price the seller is asking and the loan amount. In this case, you’ll need to pay the seller the difference in cash, take out additional financing, or negotiate a seller financing agreement.

In some ways, a “subject to” loan represents less risk to you. If the property goes into foreclosure, for example, your personal credit could escape undamaged. On the other hand, if the bank learns that you made an arrangement without its permission, it might call the loan due. At that point, you’d either need to find alternate financing or risk losing any funds you invested in the property.

What It Takes to Qualify for an Investment Property Loan

If you’re considering an investment property loan, see what the lender you plan to work with requires in terms of eligibility.

Likely, both your personal and business credit scores will be considered to determine your creditworthiness, as well as your debt-to-income ratio. How long you’ve been in business may also matter to mortgage lenders.

Is It Harder to Get a Mortgage for an Investment Property Than a Home?

It depends. If you have found a great property and have a decent down payment, it could be easier to get one of these loans than it would be to get a home mortgage.

If you’re new to real estate investing, you may find it more challenging to finance your first few properties. With successful experience, though, your options will increase. 

What’s important at this stage is to understand what different types of lenders look for, and what types of loan options are available.

Step-by-Step Guide to Securing an Investment Property Loan

The first step in getting an investment property loan is to understand your financial situation and your qualifications. To do this you’ll want to:

  • Check your personal credit scores with all the major credit bureaus.
  • Review your annual income. If you have a job look at your W-2s and W-9s for the last two years. 
  • Understand your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). What are your monthly debt payments and how do they compare to your income?
  • How much money do you have for a down payment? How quickly can you access those funds if you find the right property?

You may want to talk with an experienced mortgage lender who understands investment property financing options to get prequalified for a loan (if applicable). 

The next step is to find the property you want to buy. This could be fast or slow, depending on the market, how much you can afford to borrow, and other factors. In a competitive market, you’re competing with cash buyers, so you’ll need to be ready to act quickly. That’s why taking the time to research options and talk to lenders can be helpful, so you can confidently make an offer that you’ll likely be able to get a loan to buy.

How to Apply for an Investment Property Loan

It may take time to fill out your application, so gather any required information and paperwork ahead of time. You may need to provide tax returns and financial statements as well as information about your business.

Once you’re approved, you’ll be given a loan agreement that lists loan terms, including your mortgage rate. If you approve, sign the documents and the funds should be deposited into your bank account.

What to Consider Before Buying an Investment Property

There’s one rule above all to consider when you’re looking to take on an investment property: Make sure that you can afford the property you’re trying to purchase. In the real estate industry, many buyers use what’s called the 1% rule to determine how much you’ll have to charge in monthly rent to make a reasonable income. The 1% rule requires basic math: Multiply the total purchase price by 1% to find the monthly rent you’ll need to charge. For example, if the purchase price is $200,000, you’ll have to charge $2,000 per month in rent. The rent amount will need to be close to the median rent cost in your area or you may not be able to find high quality tenants. 

The 50% rule suggests that 50% of your income from rent will go toward expenses. If loan repayment requires a significant chunk of that income, it will be hard to make a good income after you pay other expenses like property taxes, repairs,  insurance, maintenance, property management, etc.

All loan offers are not created equal, so be sure to shop around since you might find a better rate and terms elsewhere. Your required down payment can also vary quite a bit from lender to lender. Also, be aware of all fees that go into your investment property loan, as you may have origination and/or administrative fees. In addition, consider costs of managing the property for things like standard and unexpected maintenance, insurance, and property taxes.

How to Leverage Investment Property Loans for Maximum ROI

Leverage is the concept of using “Other People’s Money” or “OPM” to buy property. You use a loan to finance a portion of the purchase, which reduces your out-of-pocket expenses. 

But the more you borrow, the larger your monthly payment, which affects your cash flow. 

There are a number of calculations investors use to decide whether an investment property purchase makes sense. ROI takes into account annual rental income as well as appreciation in property value. 

Analyzing investment property ROI may seem daunting if you’re a first-time investor. Don’t just go with your gut though. Get familiar with rental property calculations so you can better evaluate a potential rental property. Roofstock offers a free rental property analysis spreadsheet and Bigger Pockets offers a rental property calculator

Other calculations you’ll want to become familiar with include:

  • Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate): expected return based on current market value
  • Cash-on-Cash Return (CoCR):  pre-tax cash flow as a percentage of your initial cash investment
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR): used to evaluate profitability over time

Understanding the Risks of Investment Property Loans

There are numerous risks involved in getting a loan to buy investment property. Among them:

  • Terrible tenants can fail to pay and/or damage the property.
  • Natural disasters such as floods, fires or hurricanes can destroy properties and be financially devastating, especially if you are underinsured.
  • Unexpected expenses, costly repairs, vacancies, zoning changes and more can make it harder to make payments. 

For all these reasons, it’s essential to do your homework and choose your investment property carefully.

Bottom Line

It’s not impossible to get an investment property loan with just 10% down. It is, however, complicated. You may need to accept extra risk or inconvenience if you want to avoid the traditional 20% (or higher) down payment generally required for non-owner occupied investment loans.

Of course, if the options above sound too inconvenient or too risky, that’s okay. You may be better off searching for a rental property loan through a more traditional route. It may take more time to save a large down payment, but doing so could help you secure financing that makes you more comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions About Investment Loans With a Low Down Payment

This article was originally written on November 21, 2019 and updated on January 11, 2024.

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7 responses to “How to Get an Investment Property Loan With 10 Percent Down

  1. When I read the title of the article, my expectation was to have a list of “good” ways to get an investment property loan with 10% down (for people who already live in their own home and are looking to move into the investment property world). There are tons of articles and resources that point you to the typical ways a regular person, who has their own housing needs, can acquire a low down payment loan. This is just a reposting of every article out there for someone who is currently renting or living with parents. If you already have a home, nothing in this article is helpful in regards to obtaining financing with only 10% down. Not much useful information in this article (Sorry). I wish I was a 20-year-old who had never purchased a home; these types of articles would be a gold mine.

  2. Looks like the only way to actually get an investment property loan for 10% down is possibly hard money, but that would be negotiated directly with the lender. The rest of the methods listed here are mean for owner-occupants.

    1. Yes. I have been trying to buy all ways with credit score of 730 and 689 and 660. Still can’t. They want 42grand as down payment. FHA sucks too. They don’t do anything for you. Banks change everything they want. I’m disgusted with mortgage lenders all. I have my place 7 yrs Oct. Not one late payment! Or credit card debt! Any suggestions?

  3. Great article! It gives me hope that if I continue to search there maybe some options out there that could possibly work for me.
    Thank you!

  4. While the article is well-written there is SO much misinformation and many misleading things. Having done mortgages for 23 years I can tell you there are some flat-out wrong pieces of information and some that are just left hanging that need to be explained. I would NOT recommend this article to prospective multi-unit buyers if they want to be informed and successful. Talk to a good loan officer recommended by a family member, friend, or trusted agent if you want to purchase an investment property.