First Time Homebuyer Guides - Northeast

First-Time Home Buying Assistance Programs & Grants in the Northeast for 2023

Buying a home can be exciting, exhausting and, no matter how smoothly the process may go, one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Not having enough money to adequately finance a purchase makes it all the more daunting. Fortunately, there are first-time homebuyer programs available in every state, making it easier for many people to access the resources they need to buy their new home, and to feel more secure through the whole process.

Keep in mind that first-time homebuyers don’t actually have to be buying their first home. A first-time homebuyer is defined as anyone who hasn’t had an ownership interest in a primary home in the past three years.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also includes in its list of qualified homebuyers:

•   A single parent who has only owned a home with a partner while married

•   A displaced homemaker who has only owned a home with a spouse

•   Someone who has owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation

•   Someone who has only owned a property that wasn’t in compliance with state, local, or model building codes

Every state has assistance programs available for first-time homebuyers. You can also check out this helpful information on the first-time home buying process and information on qualifying for your first mortgage.

Here are the homebuyer programs that qualified first-time buyers have available to them in the Northeast:


Thinking of buying a home in the land of lobster and lighthouses? Prices in general lingered below the U.S. median toward mid-year.

Maine home sale prices rose 13.2% from May 2021 to May 2022, according to Redfin, which tracks real estate trends. The median price was $348,600, compared with the national median of $430,700.

💡 Learn about Maine first-time homebuyer programs

New Hampshire

The housing market in the Granite State is hot. From May 2021 to May 2022, home prices rose 15% to an average sale price of $434,500, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. And 68% of the homes sold above their list price.

At the same time, the number of houses for sale in New Hampshire plummeted. The inventory dropped by almost 30%. Still, there are good opportunities for the first-time buyer in the state.

💡 Learn about New Hampshire first-time homebuyer programs


The Green Mountain State is a nature lover’s paradise with forests, lakes, and mountains. Along with its natural beauty, it’s also the safest state in the country. No wonder then that the housing market has heated up: Home prices have risen 15.3% in the past year (May 2021-May 2022), according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage that analyzes housing market data.

Home buyers can find the Vermont market challenging, since there are 40.8% fewer homes for sale now than there were in 2021. And they go fairly quickly: In 2021, a home was on the market for a median of 56 days. In 2022, the median dropped to 39 days.

💡 Learn about Vermont first-time homebuyer programs


Glorious New England scenery, a rich history, and diverse cultural and educational opportunities are just some of the things Massachusetts has to offer residents. And the housing market in the state is heating up.

From May 2021 to May 2022, prices rose 10.2%, to a median sale price of $604,900, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage company that analyzes housing market data across the country. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for the first-time homebuyer in Massachusetts.

💡 Learn about Massachusetts first-time homebuyer programs

Rhode Island

This small state is big on charm: Rhode Island’s miles of coastline offer beautiful beaches and picturesque inlets, and you’ll also find dynamic cities and rural small towns here. There’s a lot for the first-time homebuyer in Rhode Island to get excited about, and this can be a good time to purchase.

The average home value is $429,686, with just a 1.31% increase from April to May 2022. The inventory of available homes is limited, however, and there are currently only 1,067 homes on the market. Houses are selling for $32,700 more than the annual average and 15 days faster.

💡 Learn about Rhode Island first-time homebuyer programs


You’re looking at a competitive market in the Constitution State: The number of homes for sale fell 27% from May 2021 to 2022, according to Redfin, a brokerage that tracks housing trends across the nation.

The median sale price for a home in May 2022 was about $369,000, a 7.5% increase year-over-year. With limited inventory and so much demand, 69% of homes over the past year sold for more than their listing price.

💡 Learn about Connecticut first-time homebuyer programs

New York

The housing market in New York state can be challenging, especially for first-time buyers. Home prices in the Empire State rose 7.8% from May 2021 to May 2022, with the median sale price of $560,200.

The number of homes on the market dropped about 12%, which may explain why houses are selling faster than they were a year ago — 34 days versus 52 days in May 2021. And 46% of homes sold above their listing price.

💡 Learn about New York first-time homebuyer programs

New Jersey

The Garden State saw record real estate sales in some areas in recent years as city dwellers fled to the suburbs and more rural areas amid the pandemic. The market slowed a bit in 2022, with the number of homes for sale in April falling 14.5% year-over-year, yet home prices continued to rise.

In New Jersey, that translates into one of the country’s most expensive markets. The median home sale price rose 9.4% year-over-year in April, to $433,700, according to real estate firm Redfin. Hot spots like Haddonfield, Sea Isle City, and Montclair saw home prices jump 60% or more.

💡 Learn about New Jersey first-time homebuyer programs


Thinking of buying a home in Pennsylvania? The average prices are below the country’s, but some pockets are hot.

While home sales prices rose 10.6% from May 2021 to May 2022, to a median of $291,000, Redfin reported, the number of homes for sale dropped by 10.3%. That means you may have to compete to get the home you want, especially in cities like Quakertown (home prices up 47.4% in a year) and Lansdale (up 36.2%).

💡 Learn about Pennsylvania first-time homebuyer programs

The Takeaway

Qualifying first-time homebuyers have many options available to them in the Midwest, including down payment assistance. If you’re looking to buy your first home and aren’t sure how to get started, researching homebuyer programs is a great place to start. Once you know what kind of assistance you may qualify for, it’s a good idea to estimate just how much house you can really afford using a home affordability calculator.

And one of the most important parts of home ownership is shopping around for a great interest rate. While you’re searching, consider SoFi. With as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers, and a guaranteed on-time close*, a SoFi Mortgage may be the perfect fit for your home ownership goals.

*SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will provide you $2,000.^ Terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 6/15/22 for the purchase of a primary residence. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The property must be owner-occupied, single-family residence (no condos), and the loan amount must meet the Fannie Mae conventional guidelines. No bank-owned or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Have employment income supported by W-2, (2) Receive written approval by SoFi for the loan and you lock the rate, (3) submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property at least 30 days prior to the closing date in the purchase contract, (4) provide to SoFi (by upload) all required documentation within 24 hours of SoFi requesting your documentation and upload any follow-up required documents within 36 hours of the request, and (5) pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. The Guarantee will be void and not paid if any delays to closing are due to factors outside of SoFi control, including delays scheduling or completing the appraisal appointment, appraised value disputes, completing a property inspection, making repairs to the property by any party, addressing possible title defects, natural disasters, further negotiation of or changes to the purchase contract, changes to the loan terms, or changes in borrower’s eligibility for the loan (e.g., changes in credit profile or employment), or if property purchase does not occur. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. ^To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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15 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for a Winter Open House

15 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for a Winter Open House

If you’re planning a winter open house, you might think there’s not much you can do to boost your curb appeal. In summer, you can clean up the lawn, add new plants, and set out an Adirondack chair in a cool color. But in the depths of winter, it may feel hopeless. However, there’s actually a lot you can do to boost your curb appeal for a winter open house.

How to Prepare for an Open House

No matter the season, there are some things that hold true about how to prepare for an open house. You always want your home to give off a great first impression. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or sunny, that means cleaning up the lawn, tidying the driveway, and doing other basic maintenance.

In winter, you may face some additional challenges. A heavy snowfall can be a high hurdle to overcome. But there are still plenty of people buying a home in the winter, and you can still give those folks a stunning first impression of your house. Let’s look at 15 things you can do that help with a winter open house.

1. Start at the Front Door

No matter what the weather is doing, you can always spruce up your front door. It will greet potential buyers before they ever step inside. A fresh welcome mat and a charming wreath (whether real pine boughs or, say, holiday ornaments) can go a long way in this regard. You can also do some basic cleaning no matter what the season. Basic tidiness can give you more of an edge than you might imagine.

2. Find Plants that Work in Winter

You might think you can only spruce up the garden in summer and spring, but there are several plants that thrive in colder weather. This will depend on where you live; holly is a popular choice that adds color all winter. Another idea is to grab some pots of mums from your local supermarket or garden center to bring some greenery to the front door area on the day of your open house.

3. Don’t Forget the Birds

It isn’t just plants that are surprisingly hardy in winter. If you have birds in spring and summer, they may be around in winter, too. Hanging a bird feeder can entice them to flit about your yard, which will be charming for visitors. Plus, this is a super easy way to prepare for an open house if you already have bird feeders for the warmer months. Just add seeds.

4. Know the Trends

You don’t have to go it alone when trying to figure out how to prepare for an open house. Look up the current housing market trends by city. This can show you not only what’s selling, but perhaps why it’s selling. See what other sellers are doing to improve their curb appeal. Take a look at the listings and let them inspire you.

5. Turn on the Lights

You can use outdoor lighting to not only make your home more attractive, but also safer. You don’t want prospective buyers stumbling through the dark or approaching nervously because you left them in the dark. Add more lighting if you can. You can line a pathway with lights, for example, for both safety and aesthetics.

6. Check the Gutters

In winter, the gutters can take a beating. Make sure you clean out snow, leaves, and other debris that tends to build up during bad weather. Overstuffed gutters just aren’t a good look.

7. Clean the Walkways

A winter open house shouldn’t require snow shoes. If you’ve had snow and other bad weather, make sure the walkways to and from the house are clean and clear. Shoveling snow isn’t fun, but it will make a much better impression when buyers pull up in front of your house.

8. Don’t Hide Those String Lights

You might think that you have to prepare for an open house by hiding all the holiday lighting, but string lights can add a stylish touch to your home. Don’t go overboard like something out of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but do think about having some in the front of your house, whether around the front door or on some shrubs by the entryway.

9. Put on a Fresh Coat of Paint

There’s no wrong season for a fresh coat of paint. If you get the opportunity and have the budget, try painting your home. It can make your home look crisp and well cared for.

10. Paint Your Front Door a Bright Color

Don’t have the time or budget to repaint the whole house? Even just painting the front door can add a fresh splash of color that boosts your home’s curb appeal. Some colors to consider: bright red, like the color of an English double-decker bus, or sunny yellow.

11. Make Sure the House Number Is Visible

When it comes to curb appeal, you also have to think about the literal curb. Is your house number visible from the street? If not, consider updating those numbers to make them visible and chic.

12. Spruce Up the Mailbox

While you’re looking at your house numbers, why not spruce up your mailbox as well? Perhaps you get a brand-new one, or give your current one a fresh coat of paint or some string lights, so it pops.

13. Do a Quick Roof Fix-Up

Maybe you’ve lived with a few broken or missing roof shingles or tiles for so long, you hardly notice them. Sorry to say, prospective buyers may well zero in on them the second they walk up your front path. It’s wise to get those repaired before you welcome your home shoppers.

💡 Recommended: What Are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

14. Add Pine Cones to Your Landscaping

You might think of pinecones as a nuisance you have to clear out during winter, but you can use them to your advantage. Line flower and tree beds with pinecones in order to protect the plants and add a seasonal touch to your lawn.

15. Use Fake Plants

You don’t have to be 100% authentic with your decorations. Topiaries made of fake trees or grapevine balls can make your porch more appealing. And they’ll likely stand up to any weather winter can throw at them. You can even add string lights to these kinds of plants for a nice extra touch. And when winter is over, simply store them away.

The Takeaway

You might feel discouraged at first when wondering how to maximize curb appeal for an open house in winter. But it’s a lot easier than it seems. There’s no point trying to fake spring or summer flowers, so opt for cleaning up, some greenery (real or artificial), some lighting, and perhaps a pop of color.

If you’re planning to shop for a new home at the same time you’re selling your current house, you may want to start researching mortgage rates and getting pre-approved. SoFi can help you with your future mortgage loan at competitive rates and with a super simple process.

Photo credit: iStock/Korisbo

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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What Is a No-Closing-Cost Refinance?

A no-closing-cost refinance sounds divine, but it’s important to understand that you will either roll the closing costs into the new mortgage or exchange them for a slightly higher interest rate.

Because you’ll either fatten your loan principal or pay an increased rate, your monthly payments and total interest paid will likely be higher than if you had paid the closing costs with cash.

Still, a no-closing-cost refinance can help some homeowners make their finances more manageable. Read on to decide if a no-closing-cost refinance is right for you.

No-Closing-Cost Refinance: How Does It Work?

You know how they say that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is? Well, that’s true in this case, too.

When you refinance a mortgage, you’re taking out a whole new loan, hopefully with a lower rate or shorter term.

The costs to do so are usually 2% to 5% of the total loan amount. For a refinance loan of $300,000, for example, that is $6,000 to $15,000, a big pill to swallow if the costs are to be paid upfront.

A no-closing-cost refinance means you get to take out a new mortgage without paying closing costs out of pocket or you accept a higher rate for the new loan.

Let’s break it down.

Closing Costs? What Closing Costs?

When a borrower signs mortgage documents, a variety of fees and expenses come along for the ride, which you probably remember from signing your mortgage the first time.

Right away or after a set number of months, depending on the kind of mortgage they have, homeowners can attempt to lower their mortgage rate and shorten their loan term or, if they’re sitting on enough home equity, apply for cash-out refinancing.

They may want to transition from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage — or a fixed-rate mortgage to an ARM.

Some may want to refinance their FHA or USDA loan into a conventional loan to get rid of mortgage insurance; others may be looking to refinance their jumbo loan.

If rates have fallen or if your creditworthiness has significantly improved since you took out your mortgage, those are among the signs it might be time for a mortgage refinance.

But there’s no free lunch when it comes to closing costs, even with a “no-closing-cost refinance.” The mortgage refinancing costs add up.

Here are expenses that might be rolled into the refinanced loan:

Lender fees. Borrowing money costs money! Your lender might assess an application fee, processing fee, credit report fee, and underwriting fee. Most but not all lenders charge an origination fee. Any points on the mortgage, aka discount points, may be rolled in.

Title insurance fees. A title search ensures that no one else can claim ownership of your home.

Other closing costs can’t always be rolled into the new loan. They include:

•   Prepaid property taxes

•   Homeowners insurance

•   Any homeowners association dues

•   Appraisal fee. The home appraiser’s fee is usually charged early in the closing process, so you probably won’t be able to add it to the new loan

If you compare no-cost refinance offers, ensure that each lender is willing to cover the same items.

And be aware that a lender that will cover lender fees, third-party charges, and prepaid items will probably charge a higher rate.

The Cost of a ‘No-Cost Refinance’

Given the heft of closing costs, a no-cost refinance might be sounding better and better. But whether you opt to accept a higher rate or roll in the closing costs, you’re still responsible for paying those costs over time.

And depending on their total expense, as well as the interest rate and mortgage term, closing costs can eclipse the savings you stand to gain by refinancing in the first place.

That’s why it’s important, given your anticipated new loan rate and term, to use a mortgage calculator and scour loan estimates you’ll receive after applying for a mortgage refinance to know the full amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

With any mortgage refinance that includes closing costs, it’s a good idea to look at the refinance break-even point: closing costs divided by the expected monthly savings. That will give you the number of months it will take to recoup the costs to refinance.

If a refinance adds $100 a month to your mortgage payment and your lender is covering $4,000 in closing costs, you’ll break even after 40 payments, or three years and four months.

Recommended: Mortgage Recast or Mortgage Refinance?

Pros and Cons of a No-Closing-Cost Refinance

So-called no-closing-cost refinances have upsides and downsides to consider.

Benefits of a No-Closing-Cost Refinance

•   This kind of refinance can help keep homeowners from owing a hefty bill all at once, making it possible to refinance if they don’t have a lot of cash on hand.

•   By rolling costs into a home loan, you can keep cash on hand to use for other purposes that may be more important to you.

•   If you opt for a higher rate, you won’t use up home equity on a no-closing-cost refinance.

Drawbacks of a No-Closing-Cost Refinance

•   The closing costs may be compensated for in the form of a higher interest rate, which can be costly over time.

•   If the closing costs are added to the principal loan balance, borrowers very likely will pay more interest over the life of the loan than they would have if they’d paid closing costs upfront.

•   If your refinance lender won’t let you cross the 80% loan-to-value threshold when closing costs are added, you won’t have enough room to include the closing costs. If the lender will allow a higher than 80% LTV ratio, the new mortgage typically will require private mortgage insurance.

Recommended: Cash-Out Refinance vs HELOC

Is a No-Closing-Cost Refinance Right for You?

If you stand to save money by refinancing your home — and if you’ll be in your home long enough that you’ll break even on the refinance — it might be worth footing the elevated interest rate or higher loan principal of a no-closing-cost mortgage refinance.

For those who don’t have the cash on hand to pay for closing costs upfront, this approach is the only feasible way to achieve a refinance at all.

If, however, you’re able to pay the closing costs upfront, doing so can help keep the loan less expensive over its lifetime.

The Takeaway

With a no-closing-cost refinance, closing costs are either added to the new mortgage or exchanged for a higher interest rate. A no-cost refinance can make refinancing possible for those who can’t pay the closing costs upfront, but it’s important to look at costs over the life of the loan and your plans as a homeowner to ensure that it makes financial sense.

SoFi offers a traditional mortgage refinance and cash-out refinance at competitive interest rates.

And SoFi allows qualifying borrowers to roll closing costs into their mortgage.

When you’re ready to refinance, check out SoFi’s options.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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white fence with pink flowers

Second Mortgage, Explained: How It Works, Types, Pros, Cons

For many homeowners who need cash in short order, a second mortgage in the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit is a go-to answer.

What’s the point of a second mortgage? It’s a way to fund everything from home improvements to credit card debt payoff, and for some, a HELOC serves as a security blanket.

You can probably think of many things you could use a home equity loan or HELOC for, especially when the rate and terms may be more attractive than those of a cash-out refinance or personal loan.

Just know that you’ll need to have sufficient equity in your home to pull a second mortgage.

What Is a Second Mortgage?

A second mortgage is one typically taken out after your first mortgage. Less commonly, a first and second mortgage may be taken out at the same time in the form of a “piggyback loan.”

Your house serves as collateral.

An “open end” second mortgage is a revolving line of credit that allows you to withdraw money and pay it back as needed, up to an approved limit, over time.

A “closed end” second mortgage is a loan disbursed in a lump sum.

It’s not called a second mortgage just because you probably took it out in that order. The term also refers to the fact that if you can’t make your mortgage payments and your home is sold as a result, the proceeds will go toward paying off your first mortgage and then toward any second mortgage and other liens (if anything is left).

How Does a Second Mortgage Work?

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) and a home equity loan, the two main types of second mortgages, work differently but have a shared purpose: to allow homeowners to borrow against their home equity without having to refinance their first mortgage.


HELOCs may have lower starting interest rates than home equity loans, although HELOC rates are usually variable — fluctuating over time.

Home equity loans have fixed interest rates.

In general, the choice between a fixed- vs variable-rate loan has no one universal winner.


Home equity loans and HELOCs come with closing costs and fees of about 2% to 5% of the loan amount, but if you do your research, you may be able to find a lender that will waive some or all of the closing costs.

Some lenders offer a “no-closing-cost HELOC,” but it will usually come with a higher interest rate.

Example of a Second Mortgage

Let’s say you buy a house for $400,000. You make a 20% down payment of $80,000 and borrow $320,000. Over time you whittle the balance to $250,000.

You apply for a second mortgage. A new appraisal puts the value of the home at $525,000.

The current market value of your home, minus anything owed, is your home equity. In this case, it’s $275,000.

So how much home equity can you tap? Often 85%, although some lenders allow more.

Assuming borrowing 85% of your equity, that could give you a home equity loan or credit line of nearly $234,000.

After closing on your loan, the lender will file a lien against your property. This second mortgage will have separate monthly payments.

Types of Second Mortgages

To qualify for a second mortgage, in addition to seeing if you meet a certain home equity threshold, lenders may review your credit score, credit history, employment history, and debt-to-income ratio when determining your rate and loan amount.

Here are details about the two main forms of a second mortgage.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan is issued in a lump sum with a fixed interest rate.

Terms may range from five to 30 years.

Recommended: Exploring the Different Types of Home Equity Loans

Home Equity Line of Credit

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit with a maximum borrowing limit.

You can borrow against the credit limit as many times as you want during the draw period, which is often 10 years. The repayment period is usually 20.

Most HELOCs have a variable interest rate. They typically come with yearly and lifetime rate caps.

Second Mortgage vs Refinance: What’s the Difference?

A mortgage refinance involves taking out a home loan that replaces your existing mortgage. Equity-rich homeowners may choose a cash-out refinance, taking out a mortgage for a larger amount than the existing mortgage and receiving the difference in cash.

Taking on a second mortgage leaves your first mortgage intact. It is a separate loan.

To determine your eligibility for refinancing, lenders look at the loan-to-value ratio, in part. Most lenders favor an LTV of 80% or less. (Current loan balance / current appraised value x 100 = LTV)

Even though the rate for a refinance might be lower than that of a home equity loan or HELOC, refinancing means you’re taking out a new loan, so you face mortgage refinancing costs of 2% to 5% of the new loan amount on average.

Homeowners who secured a low mortgage rate will not benefit from a mortgage refinance when the going rate exceeds theirs.

Pros and Cons of a Second Mortgage

Taking out a second mortgage is a big decision, and it can be helpful to know the advantages and potential downsides before diving in.

Pros of a Second Mortgage

Relatively low interest rate. A second mortgage may come with a lower interest rate than debt not secured by collateral, such as credit cards and personal loans. And when rates are on the rise, a cash-out refinance becomes less appetizing.

Access to money for a big expense. People may take out a second mortgage to get the cash needed to pay for a major expense, from home renovations to medical bills.

Mortgage insurance avoidance via piggyback. A homebuyer may take out a first and second mortgage simultaneously to avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).

People generally have to pay PMI when they make a down payment on a conventional loan of less than 20% of the home’s value.

A piggyback loan, or second mortgage, can be issued at the same time as the initial home loan and allow a buyer to meet the 20% threshold and avoid paying PMI.

Cons of a Second Mortgage

Potential closing costs and fees. Closing costs come with a home equity loan or HELOC, but some lenders will reduce or waive them if you meet certain conditions. With a HELOC, for example, some lenders will skip closing costs if you keep the credit line open for three years. It’s a good idea to scrutinize lender offers for fees and penalties and compare the APR vs. interest rate.

Rates. Second mortgages may have higher interest rates than first mortgage loans. And the adjustable interest rate of a HELOC means the rate you start out with can increase — or decrease — over time, making payments unpredictable and possibly difficult to afford.

Risk. If your monthly payments become unaffordable, there’s a lot on the line with a second mortgage: You could lose your home.

Must qualify. Taking out a second mortgage isn’t a breeze just because you already have a mortgage. You’ll probably have to jump through similar qualifying hoops in terms of home appraisal and documentation.

Common Reasons to Get a Second Mortgage

Typical uses of second mortgages include the following:

•   Paying off high-interest credit card debt

•   Financing home improvements

•   Making a down payment on a vacation home or investment property

•   As a security measure in uncertain times

•   For a blow-out wedding (or funeral) with a HELOC chunk

•   College costs

Can you use the proceeds for anything? In general, yes, but each lender gets to set its own guidelines. Some lenders, for example, don’t allow second mortgage funds to be used to start a business.

The Takeaway

What’s the point of a second mortgage? A HELOC or home equity loan can provide qualifying homeowners with cash fairly quickly and at a relatively decent rate.

If you’re looking for a way to put some of your home equity to use, see what SoFi has to offer.

In addition to a cash-out refinance, SoFi offers a brokered home equity line of credit, allowing access to 95%, or $500,000, of your home’s equity.

It’s easy to find your rate.


Does a second mortgage hurt your credit?

Shopping for a second mortgage can cause a small dip in a credit score, but the score will probably rebound within a year if you make on-time mortgage payments.

How much can you borrow on a second mortgage?

Most lenders will allow you to take about 85% of your home’s equity in a second mortgage. Some allow more.

How long does it take to get a second mortgage?

Applying for and obtaining a HELOC or home equity loan takes an average of two to six weeks.

What are alternatives to getting a second mortgage?

A personal loan is one alternative to a second mortgage. A cash-out refinance is another.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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Everything You Need to Know About Hypothecation

Everything You Need to Know About Hypothecation

Hypothecation may be a word you’ve never heard, but it describes a transaction you’ve probably participated in. Hypothecation is what happens when a piece of collateral, like a house, is offered in order to secure a loan.

Auto loans and mortgages involve hypothecation since the lender can repossess the car or house if the borrower is unable to pay.

There are, though, some more subtle details to understand about hypothecation, particularly if you’re in the market for a home loan. Read on to learn about hypothecation loans.

What Is Hypothecation?

Hypothecation is essentially the fancy word for pledging collateral. If you’re taking out a secured loan — one in which a physical asset can be taken by the lender if you, as the borrower, default — you’re participating in hypothecation. (Hypothecation is also possible in certain investing scenarios, which we’ll talk briefly about later.)

Some of the most common hypothecation loans are auto loans and mortgages. If you’ve ever purchased a car, it’s likely you have (or had) a hypothecation loan, unless you paid the full purchase price in cash.

Importantly, just because the asset is offered as collateral doesn’t mean that the owner loses legal possession or ownership rights of that asset. For instance, with an auto loan, the car is still yours, even though the lender might hold the title until the loan is paid off.

You also maintain your right to the positive parts of ownership, such as income generation and appreciation. This is perhaps most obvious in the case of homeownership. Even if you’re paying a mortgage on your property, you still have the right to lease the place out and collect the rental income.

However, the lender has the right to seize the property if you fail to make your mortgage payments. (Which would be a bad day for both you and the renters alike.)

Why Is Hypothecation Important?

Hypothecation makes it easier to qualify for a loan — particularly a loan for a lot of money — because the collateral means the transaction is less of a risk for the lender.

For instance, hypothecation is the only way that most people are able to qualify for a mortgage. If those loans weren’t secured with collateral, lenders might have very steep eligibility requirements to lend hundreds of thousands of dollars!

There are unsecured loans, however. A personal loan is a good example.

Because unsecured loans are riskier for the lender, they tend to be harder to qualify for and carry higher interest rates than secured loans.

It’s a trade-off: With an unsecured loan, you’re not at risk of having anything repossessed from you, and you can use the money for just about anything you want.

On the other hand, if comparing a car loan and personal loan of equal length, you’re likely to pay more interest over the life of the unsecured loan and be subject to a stricter eligibility screening to get the loan in the first place.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

Hypothecation in Investing

Along with hypothecation in the context of a secured loan for a physical asset, like a house or a car, hypothecation can also occur in investing — though usually not unless you’re taking on advanced investment techniques.

Hypothecation occurs when investors participate in margin lending: borrowing money from a broker in order to purchase a stock market security (like a share of a company).

This technique can help active, short-term investors buy into securities they might not otherwise be able to afford, which can lead to gains if they hedge their bets right.

But here’s the catch: The other securities in the investor’s portfolio are used as collateral and can be sold by the broker if the margin purchase ends up being a loss.

TL;DR: Unless you’re a well-studied day trader, buying on margin probably isn’t for you and you probably don’t have to worry about hypothecation in your investment portfolio. But you should know it can happen in investing, too.

Recommended: What Is Margin Trading?

Hypothecation in Real Estate

A mortgage is a classic example of a hypothecation loan: The lending institution foots the six-digit (or seven-digit) cost of the home upfront but retains the right to seize the property if you’re unable to make your mortgage payments.

Hypothecation also occurs with investment property loans. A lender might require additional collateral to lessen the risk of providing a commercial property loan. Borrowers might hypothecate their primary home, another piece of property, a boat, car, or even stocks to secure the loan.

A promissory note details the terms of the arrangement.

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save for a Home

Is Hypothecation in a Mortgage Worth It?

Given the size of most home loans and the risk of losing the home, you may wonder if taking out a mortgage is worth it at all.

Even though any kind of loan involves going into debt and taking on some level of risk, homeownership is still usually seen as a positive financial move. That’s because much of the money you’re paying into your mortgage each month usually ends up back in your own pocket in some capacity…as opposed to your landlord’s pocket.

When you pay a mortgage, you’re slowly building equity in your home. Most homes have historically tended to increase in value.

More broadly, homeownership can help build generational wealth in your family.

A Note on Rehypothecation

There is such a thing as rehypothecation, which is what happens when the collateral you offer is in turn offered by the lender in its own negotiations.

But this, as anyone who lived through the 2008 housing crisis knows, can have dire consequences. Remember The Big Short? Rehypothecation is part of the reason the housing market became so fragile and eventually fell apart, and thus is practiced much less frequently these days.

The Takeaway

Hypothecation simply means that collateral like a house or car is pledged to secure a loan. Mortgages are a classic example of hypothecation, and hypothecation is the reason most of us are able to qualify for such a large loan.

Are you looking to buy a house or investment property? SoFi offers a range of mortgage loans with competitive rates.

It’s quick and easy to find your rate.

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*Borrow at 10%. Utilizing a margin loan is generally considered more appropriate for experienced investors as there are additional costs and risks associated. It is possible to lose more than your initial investment when using margin. Please see for detailed disclosure information.
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