Medical professionals, particularly those just starting their careers or with significant student loan debt, often find it challenging to qualify for a traditional mortgage. However, many lenders now offer a physician mortgage loan, which is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of doctors and other medical professionals.
Physician mortgages offer lower down payment requirements, more flexible underwriting guidelines, and higher loan amount limits, making them an attractive option for many physicians. In this article, we’ll explore the details of physician mortgage loans, how they compare to traditional loans, who qualifies for them, and the pros and cons you should take into account when considering this type of mortgage.
- A Physician Mortgage Loan can be a great option for medical professionals, especially those at the start of their career, with significant student loan debt, and future income growth.
- Doctors, Dentists, and Veterinarians along with other medical professionals can qualify for a physician mortgage loan.
- Physician mortgages don’t require 20% down payment to avoid PMI and have different underwriting requirements allowing borrowers with hefty student loan debt to qualify.
Details of a Physician Mortgage
A physician mortgage is a home loan specifically designed for doctors and other medical professionals. Unlike traditional mortgages, physician mortgages typically require little or no down payment, which is attractive for physicians who are just starting their careers and may not have a large amount of cash on hand for a down payment. Additionally, physician mortgages may offer more flexible underwriting guidelines, taking into account the significant student loan debt that many medical professionals carry.
One of the most significant benefits of a physician mortgage is that it typically offers a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. This means that borrowers don’t have to worry about fluctuations in interest rates over time, which can make budgeting and financial planning more comfortable and predictable. Additionally, physician mortgages often have fewer fees and closing costs than traditional mortgages, which can save borrowers a significant amount of money.
Differences between a Physician Mortgage and a Conventional 30-Year Mortgage
The primary difference between a physician mortgage and a conventional 30-year mortgage is the down payment requirement. While conventional mortgages typically require a down payment of 20% or more to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), physician mortgages often require little or no down payment without a requirement for PMI.
Avoiding PMI is an awesome benefit that can save borrowers hundreds of dollars a month. Banks see borrowers that can’t afford to put down 20% of the house purchase price as “riskier” and require PMI payments as an additional bit of insurance in case of default. Physician Mortgage Loans do away with PMI entirely, allowing you to purchase a house with as little as a $0 down payment.
Another significant difference with physician mortgages is that they may have more flexible underwriting guidelines. One factor lenders consider is your debt to income ratio (DTI), how much your debt payments are as a percentage of your income. This includes car loans, credit card debt, other property loans, and your student loans. Most borrowers have a DTI limit around 40%, meaning that if your total debt payments with the new loan will be above 40% of your gross income you they won’t qualify you for the loan.
This can be a huge hurdle for getting a conventional loan considering the significant student loan debt that many medical professionals carry. Lenders With a physician mortgage the lender may exclude student loans from your DTI ratio allowing you to qualify for a larger loan.
Another feature of physician mortgage loans is they do not have the same limits as conventional loans. With a conforming conventional mortgage the most you can borrow is $726,200 or $1,089,300 in high-cost areas. Physician mortgage loans don’t have this same limit, potentially allowing you to borrow more money for your home purchase.
Just because you can borrow more though doesn’t mean that you necessarily should, you should always take into account the effect on your cashflow when purchasing a home. Staying within or below your means can help you weather future financial emergencies, or take advantage of future opportunities that you might not be able to if you are spending as much as you earn each month.
Differences between a Physician Mortgage and an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of mortgage where the interest rate can change over time, based on market conditions. While ARMs can be attractive for some borrowers who want lower initial monthly payments – and they have seen a surge in popularity lately with the rise in interest rates – they can also be risky, as borrowers don’t know how much their monthly payments will be in the future.
A typical adjustable-rate mortgage is a 5/1 ARM where the mortgage interest rate is set for the first five years of the loan and then changes every year thereafter based on changes in market rates. These can be a good option for a borrower that plans to refinance their mortgage at some point within the fixed portion of the loan, but no one can predict what rates will do in the future and you shouldn’t bank on being able to refinance at a lower rate.
In contrast, physician mortgages offer a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, providing borrowers with greater financial stability and predictability. Additionally, physician mortgages typically require little or no down payment without mandating the borrower pay PMI, while an ARM has similar requirements as a conventional mortgage when it comes to putting 20% down on the purchase upfront to avoid PMI.
Who Qualifies for a Physician Mortgage?
To qualify for a physician mortgage, borrowers typically need to be medical professionals, which includes doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and other medical professionals. Additionally, lenders will require proof of income, employment, and education, as well as a strong credit score.
Should You Consider a Physician Mortgage?
When considering a physician mortgage as an option, borrowers should consider several factors, including:
- Interest rates: While physician mortgages often offer a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, they may have higher interest rates than traditional mortgages due to the lower down payment requirements and more flexible underwriting guidelines.
- Monthly payments: Because physician mortgages may offer a lower down payment and a higher interest rate, they may require higher monthly payments than a traditional mortgage. Borrowers should ensure that they can comfortably afford their monthly mortgage payments over the life of the loan.
- Closing costs: While physician mortgages may offer lower closing costs than traditional mortgages, borrowers should still factor in these costs when considering whether a physician mortgage is the right option for them.
- Future plans: Borrowers should consider their future plans when deciding whether to apply for a physician mortgage. For example, if they plan to move within a few years, a physician mortgage may not be the best option. Because of the low (up to $0) down payment required borrowers do not start out with much if any equity in their home and may not recoup their closing costs and other fees upon selling.
- Other responsibilities: As a young physician your primary focus will be on growing your career and being successful in your profession. Owning a home brings many additional responsibilities, expenses and distractions. Renting can be a good choice early on in your career, so it’s good to have a clear understanding of your goals when buying a home.
Pros and Cons of a Physician Mortgage
- Lower down payment requirements: Physician mortgages typically require little or no down payment, which can be attractive for physicians who are just starting their careers and may not have a large amount of cash on hand for a down payment.
- More flexible underwriting guidelines: Physician mortgages may have more flexible underwriting guidelines, taking into account the significant student loan debt that many medical professionals carry.
- Larger loan limits: Physician mortgages don’t have the same limits as conventional conforming mortgages meaning that you could potentially borrow more than with a traditional mortgage.
- Fixed interest rates: Physician mortgages typically offer a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, providing borrowers with greater financial stability and predictability.
- Higher interest rates: Physician mortgages may have higher interest rates than traditional mortgages due to the lower down payment requirements and more flexible underwriting guidelines.
- Limits on residency types: Some lenders won’t allow you to take out a mortgage loan on a condo or on a second residence, such as a vacation house or rental property.
- Limited lender options: Physician mortgages may only be available through certain lenders, limiting borrowers’ options.
Overall, physician mortgages can be an attractive option for medical professionals who are just starting their careers or have significant student loan debt. They offer lower down payment requirements, more flexible underwriting guidelines, fixed interest rates for the life of the loan, and lower closing costs. However, physician mortgages may have higher interest rates than traditional mortgages, and eligibility requirements that limit borrowers’ options. Ultimately, borrowers should carefully consider their financial goals and future plans when deciding whether a physician mortgage is the right option for them.