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80-10-10 Mortgages: A Closer Look with Examples and Benefits

Last updated 04/08/2024 by

Silas Bamigbola

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The 80-10-10 mortgage is a unique financial arrangement that combines two mortgages to help homebuyers reduce their down payment and avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). In this article, we’ll delve into the details of what an 80-10-10 mortgage entails, its benefits, potential drawbacks, and how it can be a smart choice for certain homebuyers.

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What is an 80-10-10 mortgage?

An 80-10-10 mortgage is a specialized type of mortgage where two loans are obtained simultaneously, effectively covering 90% of a home’s purchase price. The first mortgage, often called the “80,” has a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 80%, meaning it covers 80% of the home’s cost. The second mortgage, referred to as the “10,” comes with a 10% LTV ratio. This arrangement allows homebuyers to make a 10% down payment.
This approach significantly differs from the traditional single mortgage, which typically requires a 20% down payment. The 80-10-10 mortgage falls under the category of piggyback mortgages.

Understanding the 80-10-10 mortgage

When prospective homeowners wish to purchase a home with less than the standard 20% down payment, they are usually required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI protects the lending institution against the risk of a borrower defaulting on a loan, but it also increases a homeowner’s monthly payment.
80-10-10 mortgages become popular, particularly during periods of rapidly rising home prices. As homes become less affordable, gathering a 20% cash down payment can be a significant challenge for many individuals. Piggyback mortgages like the 80-10-10 offer a way for buyers to borrow more money than their down payment might suggest.
The first mortgage, or the “80,” in an 80-10-10 arrangement is typically a fixed-rate mortgage. In contrast, the second mortgage, the “10,” is usually an adjustable-rate mortgage. This second mortgage can be in the form of a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Pros and Cons of the 80-10-10 mortgage

Weigh the Risks and Benefits
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
  • Lower down payment: An 80-10-10 mortgage reduces the initial down payment required to buy a home.
  • Avoiding PMI: Homebuyers can sidestep the need for private mortgage insurance, which leads to lower monthly payments.
  • Flexible financing: The second mortgage offers flexibility and can act as a financial safety net.
  • Higher monthly payments: The two-mortgage structure may result in larger monthly mortgage payments.
  • Variable interest rates: The second mortgage often carries an adjustable interest rate, which could lead to higher payments if rates increase.
  • Risk in a downturn: During a housing market downturn, the risk of being “underwater” with a home worth less than the outstanding mortgage debt exists.

Benefits of an 80-10-10 mortgage

The second mortgage in an 80-10-10 arrangement operates similarly to a credit card but with a lower interest rate due to the backing of home equity. Interest is incurred on the second mortgage only when it’s used. This feature allows borrowers to pay off the home equity loan or HELOC in full or part, eliminating interest payments. Once settled, the HELOC remains available for future use, making it a useful financial tool.
An 80-10-10 loan is especially beneficial for those who are trying to buy a new home while their existing home is still on the market. In such a scenario, the HELOC can cover a portion of the down payment, which can be repaid when the old home sells.
It’s important to note that HELOC interest rates are generally higher than those for conventional mortgages, which may offset some of the savings gained through an 80% mortgage. However, if the intention is to pay off the HELOC within a few years, this may not be a significant concern.
In a rising housing market, your equity increases along with your home’s value. However, during a housing market downturn, you could potentially find yourself with a home worth less than your outstanding mortgage balance.

Example of an 80-10-10 mortgage

Let’s consider the Doe family, who wants to purchase a $300,000 home and has a 10% down payment of $30,000. In a conventional 90% mortgage scenario, they would need to pay PMI in addition to higher monthly mortgage payments due to the increased interest rate.
Alternatively, the Doe family can opt for an 80-10-10 mortgage. With this approach, they secure an 80% mortgage for $240,000, likely at a lower interest rate, and avoid the need for PMI. Simultaneously, they secure a second 10% mortgage of $30,000, which is most likely a HELOC. While the down payment remains at 10%, this choice eliminates PMI costs, provides a better interest rate, and results in lower monthly payments.

How Does an 80-10-10 mortgage work?

The mechanics of an 80-10-10 mortgage are simple yet powerful. The first part, the “80,” represents the primary mortgage that covers 80% of the home’s purchase price. This is often a fixed-rate mortgage, providing stability and predictability to your monthly payments.
The second part, the “10,” refers to the second mortgage, which covers 10% of the home’s cost. This is typically an adjustable-rate mortgage or a home equity loan. It allows you to bridge the gap between your down payment and the full purchase price.
The remaining 10% is your down payment, which is your initial stake in the home. By dividing the mortgage into these two parts, you can often secure more favorable terms, such as avoiding PMI and potentially securing a lower interest rate on the first mortgage.

Comparing 80-10-10 mortgages to other financing options

When considering an 80-10-10 mortgage, it’s essential to weigh it against alternative financing options. One common comparison is with the standard 20% down payment mortgage. In this section, we’ll explore the differences and advantages of choosing an 80-10-10 over a conventional mortgage.
Example Scenario: 20% Down Payment Mortgage
Imagine you want to buy a $300,000 home. With a conventional 20% down payment mortgage, you’d need to come up with $60,000 upfront. This is a significant financial commitment, and for many, it’s a substantial barrier to homeownership.
Example Scenario: 80-10-10 Mortgage
Now, let’s consider the same $300,000 home but with an 80-10-10 mortgage. You’ll make a 10% down payment, which is $30,000, and secure an 80% mortgage for $240,000. The remaining 10% will be financed through the second mortgage.
The key difference here is that your initial outlay is only $30,000, making it a more accessible option for many homebuyers. Additionally, you avoid the cost of PMI, which can add to your monthly expenses with a conventional mortgage.

Is an 80-10-10 mortgage right for you?

While 80-10-10 mortgages offer several advantages, they may not be the ideal choice for everyone. It’s crucial to evaluate your unique financial situation and homeownership goals before deciding.
Example Scenario: The Move-Up Buyer
If you’re a homeowner looking to sell your existing property and move into a new one, the 80-10-10 mortgage can be a strategic tool. You can use the home equity line of credit (HELOC) for the down payment on your new home while you wait for your current property to sell. Once it does, you can pay off the HELOC.
Example Scenario: The First-Time Homebuyer
For first-time homebuyers, an 80-10-10 mortgage can make homeownership more accessible. With a lower initial down payment and no PMI requirement, it’s a way to step into the real estate market without the substantial upfront costs.

Additional considerations

When contemplating an 80-10-10 mortgage, consider factors like the current interest rate environment and your future financial outlook. It’s essential to understand how potential changes in interest rates can impact your monthly payments, especially if you have an adjustable-rate second mortgage.


The 80-10-10 mortgage is a strategic financing option that empowers homebuyers to purchase a home with a reduced down payment and avoid the burden of private mortgage insurance. While it offers several advantages, including lower upfront costs, flexible financing, and the potential to eliminate interest payments on the second mortgage, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks, such as higher monthly payments and variable interest rates.
Ultimately, the suitability of an 80-10-10 mortgage depends on your unique financial situation and homeownership goals.

Frequently asked questions

What Is the main advantage of an 80-10-10 mortgage?

An 80-10-10 mortgage’s primary advantage is the reduction in the initial down payment required to buy a home. This financing structure allows homebuyers to make a 10% down payment, rather than the standard 20%, making homeownership more accessible. Additionally, it helps buyers avoid the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI), resulting in lower monthly payments.

What are the disadvantages of an 80-10-10 mortgage?

While this mortgage type offers several benefits, it’s essential to consider potential drawbacks. One key disadvantage is the possibility of higher monthly payments due to the two-mortgage structure. The second mortgage, often an adjustable-rate loan, can lead to increased payments if interest rates rise. Additionally, in a housing market downturn, there’s a risk of being “underwater” with a home worth less than the outstanding mortgage debt.

Can I pay off the second mortgage early?

Yes, you can pay off the second mortgage, often a home equity loan or HELOC, early. The advantage here is that interest is only incurred on the second mortgage when you use it. Paying it off in full or in part can help eliminate interest payments. Once settled, the HELOC remains available for future use, offering financial flexibility.

Is an 80-10-10 mortgage suitable for first-time homebuyers?

An 80-10-10 mortgage can be a suitable option for first-time homebuyers. It reduces the upfront down payment requirement, making homeownership more accessible. Additionally, it eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is often a requirement for those with smaller down payments.

What are the risks of an adjustable-rate second mortgage?

The second mortgage in an 80-10-10 arrangement is often an adjustable-rate loan. The main risk with adjustable rates is that they can increase over time, leading to higher monthly payments. It’s essential to consider the potential impact of rising interest rates on your ability to make these payments, especially when opting for this type of mortgage.

Key Takeaways

  • An 80-10-10 mortgage involves two loans: an 80% fixed-rate mortgage and a 10% second mortgage, which is typically adjustable.
  • This financing option is popular for reducing down payments and avoiding the need for PMI, resulting in lower monthly payments.
  • Monthly payments may be higher, especially if interest rates on the second mortgage increase.
  • Consider the potential benefits and drawbacks based on your financial situation and homeownership goals.
  • First-time homebuyers and those selling an existing home may find 80-10-10 mortgages particularly useful.

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