LTV is an acronym for "loan-to-value" and the ratio of (mortgage loan balance)/(home value). As an example, a homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage loan balance and a home value of $250,00 has an LTV of 80%. LTV is a key factor in the mortgage approval process.
Loan-to-Value or LTV is the amount of money you're borrowing as a percentage of your home's value.
Lenders use loan-to-value calculations on both purchase and refinance transactions. The math to determine your LTV may vary based on loan purpose, however.
With a refinance, the LTV is equal to your loan size divided by your home's appraised value. For a purchase, LTV is based on the sales price of the home, unless the home appraises for less than its purchase price. When this happens, your home's LTV is based on the lower appraised value -- not the home's purchase price.
Here are four simple examples to illustrate the concept of loan-to-value :
Whether you're buying or refinancing, though, your loan's loan-to-value is important because it helps to determine your mortgage rate and your loan eligibility.
Loan-to-value is a key factor in your ability to get approved for a mortgage. In general, lenders prefer loans with low LTV because loans with low LTV represent less risk to the bank.
That said, there are a number of loan programs specifically geared toward homeowners with high LTVs. There are even some programs which ignore loan-to-value altogether.
Here is a brief review of the more common high-LTV loan types.
VA loans are loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loan guidelines allow for 100% LTV, which means that no downpayment is required for an VA loan. VA mortgages are available to certain active-duty military servicepersons, veterans, military spouses, members of the Selected Reserve or National Guard, cadets at the U.S. Military, Air Force or Coast Guard Academy members, midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, World War II merchant seamen, U.S. Public Health Service officers and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officers, among other groups.
USDA loans are loans insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA loans allow for 100% LTV -- there is no downpayment required. USDA loans are sometimes known as Rural Housing Loans but it's a misnomer, of sorts. USDA loans are available in rural parts of the country, but they're available to many suburban homeowners, too.
FHA loans are loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHA mortgage guidelines require a downpayment of at least 3.5 percent. Unlike VA and USDA loans, FHA loans are not limited by military background or location -- there are no special eligibility requirements. FHA loans can be an especially good fit for home buyers with less-than-perfect credit scores.
Conventional loans are loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Both groups offer 97% LTV purchase mortgages, which means you will need to make a downpayment of 3 percent to qualify. 97% loans are available via most mortgage lenders, and private mortgage insurance (PMI) is often required. As compared to an FHA loan, conventional loans to 97 percent LTV are advised for homeowners with high credit scores. In most other cases, FHA loans are preferred.
High-LTV mortgages are simpler for refinance transactions as compared for purchase ones. Multiple federal agencies make "no appraisal" refinance programs available to U.S. homeowners which means that loan-to-value is a non-factor for eligibility.
A few of those programs are highlighted below.
The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was first launched late last decade. Also known as "The Obama Refi", HARP is available to homeowners with existing mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. HARP was revamped in 2011 as "HARP 2.0" and the latest iteration allows for unlimited LTV. No matter how little equity you have in your home, you can be HARP-eligible. Read more about HARP 2.0 here.
The FHA Streamline Refinance is a special refinance program made available to homeowners with existing FHA mortgages. Official guidelines for the FHA Streamline Refinance waive appraisal requirements, which means that loans with unlimited LTV are allowed. Guidelines also state that income, employment and credit are not required to be verified. Read more about the FHA Streamline Refinance here.
The VA Streamline Refinance is a special refinance program for homeowners with existing VA home loans. The official name of the VA Streamline Refinance is the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). It's sometimes called the VA-to-VA loan. Similar to its FHA cousin, the VA Streamline Refinance does not require an appraisal, nor does it require the verification of income, employment or credit. Read more about the VA Streamline Refinance here.
The USDA Streamline Refinance is available to homeowners with existing USDA mortgages only. Like the FHA and VA streamline programs, the USDA refinance waives the need for a home appraisal. The program is currently in pilot phase, and available in 19 states. Read more about the USDA Streamline Refinance here.
Loan-to-value is the ratio of how much you're borrowing to home much your home is worth. It's a simple formula but the basis for most mortgage lending. If you can grasp how LTV works, you can better pick the mortgage that suits your needs best.
To see what kind of mortgage rates you can get with your current LTV, get started online. Rates are available 24/7, and they're free. No social security number is required to get started.
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
Ron Z. Real Estate Agent
I am a full-time Realtor and I look forward to daily updates from The Mortgage Reports. The advice is useful and the insight is important. Thank you!
The Mortgage Reports is doing the BEST mortgage reporting of anyone out there!
Mohammed Y. Retired
The Mortgage Reports is informative and I read it daily. I am grateful for the knowledge I have gained.
2016 Conforming, FHA, & VA Loan Limits
Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)