Portfolio Loan for Investment Property: Explained

You probably want to acquire a mortgage if you are considering buying a property. Additionally, the mortgage you obtain can likely be conventional. However, you might be searching for other mortgage choices if you would not describe your financial condition as traditional. One of these options is a portfolio loan. 

A portfolio loan is a mortgage that a lender holds in its portfolio rather than selling it to a third entity. Since portfolio loans are typically not promoted, they can be challenging to get. However, because the portfolio loans are all up to the lender, the loan criteria might be difficult.

Why would you want to obtain a portfolio loan, and what does that signify? This guide will walk you through portfolio loans in detail and explain how they operate. After that, you may decide if a portfolio loan is appropriate for you and your house or not.

So, may we have a look? Let’s start.

What Is A Portfolio Loan?

Unlike traditional mortgages, typically sold on the resale market, a portfolio loan is one that a bank gives to a borrower and then holds on its own records. Borrowers with less-than-stellar credit histories may be eligible for a portfolio loan if they cannot obtain a traditional mortgage.

A portfolio loan helps you if you need to fund a property purchase but are having trouble being eligible for conventional loans. These loans may be very helpful for growing real estate investors.

Portfolio Lender

A portfolio lender is an institution that lends mortgages to customers but does not sell such mortgages to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or any other organizations.

A portfolio lender maintains a record of every loan it makes. These lenders do not sell your mortgage to other banks or financial organizations. Surprisingly to most homebuyers, some banks they select first for the mortgage frequently sell your loan to another business on the secondary market.

But what is that secondary market, actually? The sector where mortgages are purchased and sold between lenders, including banks, other financial organizations, and other stock market investors, is called the secondary market.

There is always a middleman between a lender and an investor. 

Portfolio lenders provide loans to clients in the traditional manner. Instead of selling the mortgages to organizations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders maintain the loans on their records and frequently provide additional services.

Mortgage bankers association states that portfolio lenders generally underwrite around 30% of all mortgages. There are several compelling reasons to think about using a portfolio loan lender, particularly:

  • If you have credit or debt problems.
  • Borrowers face difficulty receiving mortgage approval due to strict guidelines imposed by government-sponsored companies. 

How Do Portfolio Loans Work?

You may apply for a loan to borrow some cash, and a lender rates your exposure depending on how likely you are to be capable of repaying the loan. Portfolio criteria, however, frequently diverge from those of government-issued loans.

Portfolio loans have strict limitations for debt-to-income ratios, credit scores, and down payments. 100% responsibility in the event of failure is one significant distinction for a lender with a portfolio loan.

You may face higher interest rates in portfolio loans; the initiation costs for the borrower are also greater as they are riskier investments.

Selling Mortgages

Many lenders give loans to new borrowers as they cannot keep an enormous amount of money in their accounts. Moreover, a mortgage lender may sell your mortgage for real estate on the secondary market to earn liquid money and maintain lending. 

Mortgages are sometimes included in a cash payout known as mortgage-supported securities and other loans. The government-supported companies are the principal buyers of these mortgages.

These companies buy the loans to maintain the mortgage market profitably and enable more individuals to obtain mortgages and purchase homes.

Effect On The Borrower

A mortgage’s sale doesn’t affect the conditions of a borrower’s loan. The only variable that occasionally arises is the borrower’s requirement to transmit the regular mortgage fund to a new mortgage provider.

Portfolio Loans Vs Conventional Loans

If your credit score is completely locked down, your non-mortgage obligations are paid off, and you understand what the 28/36 rule actually is, you are on the verge of choosing the type of mortgage that suits you the best.

28/36 rule states that your monthly mortgage income cannot be more than 28% of your annual revenue and that your overall debt payments cannot be more than 36%

It would help if you were confronted with an overwhelming array of choices, including the following:

  • Conventional loans (conforming loans).
  • Portfolio loans (non-confirming loans).
  • Jumbo loans.
  • Sub-prime loans.

This mortgage loan selection is more than any of your wardrobe selections. Make sure you understand the distinction between a portfolio and a conventional mortgage loan. The next few years might be simpler if you know which loan is best for your house and yourself.

Conventional Loans

Although the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) does not support conventional loans, the majority of conventional loans follow the regulations established by governmental organizations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

These organizations purchase mortgages from lenders and sell them to investors. Thus they are frequently referred to as “conforming loans.” These types of loans typically have periods of 15 to 30 years; shorter durations have greater payment requirements.

The rates of conventional mortgages depend on debt security because the organizations exchange these securities as stocks. The loan rate fluctuates a lot depending on the market.

Conventional loans must satisfy specific requirements, which are meant to guarantee loan repayment. Normally, these loans are resold to other organizations and governmental companies. These companies with great security sell them to investors.

Some requirements safeguard both the investors of these securities and governmental organizations that support them. The loan requirements may include the following:

  • A better credit score, usually around 700.
  • A sizeable down payment may be as high as 25% for mortgages with higher charges and rates but as little as 3% for FHA loans.
  • Limitations on the amount that you may borrow. 
  • A debt-to-income ratio of 43%.

Who can choose conventional loans? You may select this method if you are barred from homeownership due to a damaged credit record due to a prior loss, bankruptcy, or divorce. But it’s crucial to be aware that traditional lenders frequently include penalty fees in the agreement and increased upfront costs and interest rates.

Portfolio Loans

Portfolio loans provide borrowers with another way to get money. A bank may sell securities to secondary markets when it uses this method. In essence, the bank does so to raise more funds, enabling it to provide more mortgages.

In contrast to conventional mortgages, portfolio loans are not subject to the regulations put out by the financial organizations supported by the government. This enables lenders to increase their lending options to clients who might not be eligible for conventional mortgages.

For the borrower’s convenience, portfolio mortgages frequently prepay fees and higher interest rates than conventional mortgages since they carry a higher level of danger for the lender.

Picking One Of Them

Generally speaking, conventional mortgages are best for:

  • The beginner borrowers.
  • Specifically for those with an excellent credit score of about 720.
  • Those who can make a sizable down payment.

You may choose conventional loans if you are seeking an affordable range of loans with shorter terms. This allows you to pay much less in debt for the initial 3-7 years of the mortgage’s duration. 

A portfolio mortgage can be your route to homeownership if you nearly fulfill the credit requirements for conventional loans but fall short. If you have a property or house deposit, portfolio loans are frequently more likely to get approved than conventional loans. This may happen if your credit score is less-than-perfect.

When opposed to a conventional mortgage, eligibility requirements are set by the bank, so even if your deposit is on the verge of failure or your debt: income is not ideal. Theoretically, you may qualify the certain provided conditions.

Portfolio loans can make it easier for borrowers to get loans for extraordinary homes such as:

  • Commercially zoned properties.
  • Unconventional homes.

These frequently fall beyond the scope of conventional government housing standards. A summarized difference between conventional and portfolio loans is given below, making it easier for you to choose one:

Conventional Loans

Portfolio Loans

  • Conventional loans must fulfill specific requirements issued by a government bank having variations according to the market and higher interest rates. 
  • You have to show a well-maintained credit score.
  • Portfolio loans don’t need to meet any guidelines. 
  • You may easily acquire a loan without showing any strong bank statement or credit score.

Borrowers That Benefit From Portfolio Loans

As the lender may establish borrowing restrictions rather than having to follow standards set by the government, portfolio loans might be advantageous to borrowers. In the following situations, a borrower may get a profit from portfolio loans rather than conventional loans:

  • With a Bad Credit Score/High DTI
  • High Earners with Low Credit Scores
  • Self-Employed or Freelancers
  • Good Customers of the Lenders
  • Buyers that Need Bigger Loan

With A Bad Credit Score/High DTI

Suppose you have a bad credit score or high debt-to-income DTI. In that case, you may suffer a time of being jobless or any other circumstances that temporarily wrecked your finances, leaving you with figures that don’t fit the criteria for a standard mortgage. In this case, you may get benefits on portfolio loans.

High Earners With Low Credit Scores

If you work in a job and get a high salary yet have trouble with your monthly income on time, then you may choose portfolio loans.

Self-Employed Or Freelancers

You might be financially stable, then it’s your right to have a good credit score, but you might not. In such a situation, you must consider a portfolio loan or bank mortgage as an alternative.

Good Customers Of The Lenders

Suppose you are a trustworthy borrower for a lender who may find you the best to make a strong connection with; the lender may be the owner of any local company. In this case, fortunately, you may act like a magnet for a lender to choose for a portfolio loan.

Buyers That Need Bigger Loan

A portfolio loan may be an alternative if you need a mortgage greater than a mega mortgage or want a loan that may exceed your eligibility

Pros Of Portfolio Loans

It may be wise to take out a portfolio loan since it may have more lenient lending standards, demands lesser credit scores, and lesser down payments allowing you to choose portfolio loans over any other type. Some advantages of portfolio loans are listed below:

Self-Employed Borrowers 

Being your employer might be satisfying until you apply for a sizable loan to buy a house. A small company or independent contractor income that fluctuates might delay the approval of your loan application since traditional mortgage lenders prefer to see consistent employment.

Lenders from portfolios are frequently more receptive to working with independent contractors. 

Greater Adaptability

One of the key distinctions between conforming and non-conforming loans is that borrowers of non-conforming loans can potentially prevent mortgage insurance even with lesser down payments while taking out larger loans.

A Sensible Choice If Your Credit Is Poor

Suppose a string of poor luck may cause your credit score to drop; perhaps you may experience joblessness and less income for a few months, or maybe both. Such financial setbacks don’t seem well by the record, so you may not be eligible for a conventional mortgage.

A bank agrees to provide you portfolio loans for a property with more lenient screening if you have a good credit record and regular income in other areas. This is also why portfolio loans might be excellent options if you want to remortgage but have bad credit.

Real Estate Investors

Many portfolio lenders are neighbourhood banks with a local presence, which is advantageous for real estate investors wanting to purchase foreclosed homes to fix up and resell for a profit. Hence, a portfolio loan might be particularly appealing if you are searching for finance to support your real estate investing plan.

Mortgage Approval Rates

A portfolio lender originates feasibility in approving mortgages. Such as, the borrower might not be required to fulfill requirements for a minimum deposit, Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for lower down payment loan limitations, and certain credit rating.

Cons Of Portfolio Loans

You may not choose a portfolio loan in some circumstances. The following are some disadvantages of portfolio loans:

The Possibility Of A Significantly Higher Interest Rate

The lender often forfeits the opportunity to sell the loan to the secondary market when making a portfolio loan. It’s a waste of potential, and the lender can demand a greater interest rate to compensate for additional risk and liberal financing.

Sometimes Not Adaptable

Lender minted to keep the portfolio loan until the home is remortgaged or resold, but there are situations when a lender may desire the flexibility to sell the loan at a later date. If so, it may provide a portfolio loan that compiles with government organizations.

In this case, a borrower must satisfy several conventional loan criteria. In this situation, a borrower who requires a big loan or has bad credit won’t benefit much.

High Fees

A portfolio loan may come with additional costs and origination fees from the lender. They can benefit from that influencers as they provide borrowers with more flexibility who would not qualify anywhere. To put it simply, borrowers have few alternatives to weigh. 

How To Get Portfolio Loans?

Portfolio loans are typically challenging to get. Furthermore, the lenders have the option to make the loan criteria more or less burdensome. So how can a borrower obtain a portfolio loan? Check out the following points:

  1. Build A Relationship With Your Financial Organization: It increases your chances of obtaining a portfolio loan. Be a good client and get to know your lender well. With a local lender, this may be the simplest to achieve. 
  2. Compare Rates, Fees, And Conditions: Consider shopping around to determine the finest interest rates and conditions on a portfolio mortgage loan, just like you do for any real estate loan.
  3. Consult An Expert For Advice: Ask for suggestions on where and how to get portfolio loans.


  • The maximum debt-to-income ratio, normally 43%, is one of the lending requirements. 
  • A better credit score, usually over 700.
  • A sizeable down payment can vary from as little as 3% for an FHA loan to 25% for mortgages with better fees and best charges.

How To Choose A Portfolio Lender?

Contrary to many loan products, portfolio loans are rarely, if ever, heavily advertised. Following are the ways by which you may locate a portfolio lender: 

  • If you have been a bank or mortgage client for a long time or the lenders need your trade, you have a better chance of getting a portfolio loan.
  • Although a portfolio lender could be ready to take a chance on you, it might also demand a higher rate or high start-up costs in return for the added risk. Even so, receiving no new mortgage could be a better option.
  • It could be especially wise to bring up portfolio finance at this time. What’s the cause? There is a lot of money in the banks. Bank deposits climbed by >$1 trillion in both 1st and 2nd phases.

Not all loans are suitable for all borrowers and are standard with mortgage finance. Always check the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which includes these expenses, since it might not be a good bargain if a loan demands a lesser interest rate or high start-up fees.

Refinancing would not be a wise financial decision if you plan to relocate within the upcoming few years and can’t recoup your spending in that time. You must check your numbers every time. It would help if you looked around to get a portfolio loan. 

Lenders, title firms, and real estate professionals inquire about portfolio finance. It’s also true that portfolio lenders tend to refer to themselves as lenders. They are hybrid lenders as well, who hold certain loans on record while selling others to a government organization.


Do Portfolio Loans Have PMI?

Following are the conditions under which portfolio loans have PMI:

  • The lender may normally request a 20% down payment on the buying price of the home when you submit a mortgage application. 
  • Suppose a borrower is unable to pay that price. In that case, the lender may probably see the loan as a riskier asset and mandate that the purchaser purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) as a condition of obtaining a mortgage.
  • The cost of PMI, often included in the monthly payment, ranges from 0.4% to 2.25% of the mortgage per year.
  • When a borrower sufficiently reduces the mortgage’s principle, PMI can be cancelled. 
  • By doubling down a lesser loan to meet the down payment, a homeowner may be able to skip the PMI.

What Credit Score Do You Need For A Portfolio Loan?

The risk the portfolio lender wishes to assume with a borrower is up to them to determine. As a result, it may think about lending to applicants regardless of a credit union. 

However, most lenders still demand a credit score of about 620 for business or investment homes. The rates and closing expenses for borrowers with substandard credit scores may likely be higher.

What Is The Interest Rate On A Portfolio Loan?

Interest rates on a portfolio loan can be quite variable and are virtually always greater than they would be if you can employ a conventional and insured loan by the government.

Since private lenders are responsible for servicing these loans, they are encouraged to do so by charging higher interest rates and completion charges than banks would. A portfolio loan’s interest rate is typically in the 5% to 9% range.

A considerably higher rate may indicate a hard-money operation with minimal to no paperwork or verification requirements.

Do Portfolio Loans Have Closing Costs?

Yes, portfolio loans have closing costs.

Depending on the amount of the house being purchased, the loan used, and the lender you choose, the total closing expenses spent on a real estate investment can vary greatly. Closing expenses may range from 1% to 2% of the buying price of the property

In some situations, such as when loan underwriters and agents of real estate investment are involved, the gross closing expenses may be greater than 15% of the price paid for the property. For a portfolio product closing expenses typically account for between 3 and 4% of the total mortgage cost. Lender incentives may be used to offset some of the costs.


You might be able to get a portfolio loan with a small effort. Work with respectable, dependable lenders, and maintain control of your funds to keep them as solid as possible.

Discuss your case with a seasoned lender who can provide portfolio loans and conventional loans. Instead of seeing a portfolio loan as a desperate act, make an informed choice and see it as a route to a long-lasting financial goal.

Feel free to ask us if you face any issues or queries regarding this guide.

Sabine Ghali
Sabine Ghali
Helping real estate investors build wealth over time

Sabine Ghali, Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, Award Winning Real Estate Broker and an Entrepreneur at heart. Sabine is on a mission to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Gulf News, among many others.