Mortgage Savvy: The Skinny on Portfolio Loans

October 29, 2010

Many people manage to go through life without ever needing a portfolio loan. That said, there are many home-buying scenarios in which a portfolio lender may be your only financing option. With that in mind, I’ve put together answers to some typical questions on the subject. If you have any others, just let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Q: What exactly is a portfolio loan?

A: A portfolio mortgage loan is one that a bank holds onto as an investment, rather than selling it off on the secondary market (Fannie, Freddie).

Q: When are portfolio loans necessary?

A: Portfolio mortgage loans may be necessary in two general circumstances:

1) Your credentials as a buyer do not meet the underwriting guidelines set by the secondary market (e.g., your credit score is too low, insufficient income); or

2) The home you want to buy does not meet the underwriting guidelines. When this comes up, it is generally in a condo situation. For example, you may need a portfolio loan if the condo you want to buy…

…is one of the first units sold in a new condo conversion

…is in an association where more than 20% of the building’s gross living area is commercial

…is in an association with too few owner occupants (owner occupancy requirements vary by the size of the association)

…is in an association where one person owns more than 10% of the total units

Q: Are the terms different for portfolio loans?

A. Yes! Portfolio loans generally have slightly higher interest rates and are often adjustable rate loans (though some lenders do offer fixed-rate loans). Your closing costs may also be higher if you get financing through a portfolio lender.

Q: How can I find a portfolio lender?

A. Very few banks offer portfolio loans, and the funny part is that even those who do don’t seem to advertise the fact. Lenders who do offer portfolio loans are often motivated by one of two reasons: either because they have a relationship with the borrower or because they have lent money to a developer and want to make sure they are repaid, so they help buyers to finance the properties.

If you are interested in a particular property that will require portfolio financing, talk to your buyers’ agent. She can probably point you to a lender that can help. Also, sometimes listing agents will have already sourced a lender or two who is willing to provide financing, particularly in cases of new development/condo conversions.

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2 Responses to “Mortgage Savvy: The Skinny on Portfolio Loans”


  1. […] this is something that would need to be investigated for financing purposes, as it may require a portfolio loan. Let me know if you have questions or want to go see them in […]


  2. […] $300k. Keep in mind, though, that owner-occupancy in this building is low, so you’ll need a portfolio loan or cash to buy it. If you’d like to schedule a showing, get in […]


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