Resident Physician Mortgages from Start to Finish
Solution: LeverageRx explains how these loans work and can connect you with a lender that meets your needs.
As a physician-in-training, you’re facing at least three years of residency. This means 80-hour work weeks and likely more than a handful of 24-hour shifts.
But where do you call home after those long days?
You’ve got to live somewhere — not just at the hospital!
Medical residency and/or fellowship can last from 3–7 years*. You might seriously consider buying a home during this period, especially if you’re averse to paying rent.
In this piece, we’ll walk through the financial situation of physicians in residency and why it might make sense (or not) to buy a home during residency.
You’ll also discover LeverageRx’s resident physician home loans. We’ll also address the downsides of taking on a resident physician home loan during this period of your life!
*Surgical residencies must go on for a minimum of five years.
A Common Resident’s Financial Situation
You’ve finished medical school!
Now, you’re likely familiar with the financial situations that many residents experience, including:
- Small salaries
- Empty wallets
- Very little savings
- Large amounts of student loan debt from years as an undergrad and medical student
Let’s look at how each of these factors affects your eligibility to qualify for a mortgage.
Don’t worry! Later on, we’ll talk about how you can still get a physician mortgage despite these factors.
Your annual salary is one of many factors that mortgage lenders look at when determining if you qualify for a mortgage. The bigger your salary, the more likely a lender will give you a mortgage.
The average first-year resident makes around $60,000, about a quarter of the median average salary amongst all physicians. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to increase that amount, according to the American Medical Association.
Resident salaries are determined by the institution you train in. They also correlate with your training year, not your specialty.
As an example: plastic surgeons make considerably more than family practice physicians. Yet, plastic surgery residents don’t necessarily earn more than residents who plan to become primary care physicians.
All first-year residents earn the same salary, just as all residents in their third year earn the same salary.
Residents in their final year of training only earn a few thousand dollars more per year than first-year residents do.
Keep in mind that a first year resident’s salary of $60,000 is still higher than the median average of all U.S. workers, which is about $56,000 per year. With good credit and little debt, you can qualify for a mortgage on a resident’s salary.
Student Loan Debt
Did you seek financial aid through private student loans or federal student loan programs?
If so, you’re on the hook for paying back your medical school loan debt.
In 2019, the median student loan debt was $200,000, with the average cost of attending a four-year public institution of $250,222. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, private schools cost even more at $330,180.
There is usually a six-month grace period between finishing medical school and when you have to start making monthly payments on your medical school loans.
That means that most residents start paying them back while they’re still in training earning just $60,000 per year.
Some lenders, such as Sallie Mae, offer deferment programs where you can defer monthly payments while still in training. Many residents opt for this to keep more money in their pocket while not earning a true physician’s salary yet.
The downside is that interest will still accrue throughout the deferment period. In other words, you’ll owe more in total when deferment ends.
Few Funds in Savings
Rent, living expenses, and student loan payments make it difficult for residents to save money during residency. In addition to a lack of funds, budgeting, saving, and organizing your finances takes time.
But, of course, time is something that residents working 80-hour weeks just don’t have.
For residents training in cities with a high cost of living, getting by on a resident’s salary can be even more challenging. New York, San Francisco, and Seattle are a few of the more expensive cities for residents.
The good news is that there are some ways that residents can reduce their cost of living and tuck some money into a savings account:
- Choose a residency location with a low cost of living
- Find subsidized housing through your college, university, or graduate school
- Get a roommate to share the cost of utility bills and rent
- Set up a budget and reduce spending wherever possible
Even spending a little time on your financial education during residency can help prepare you for making major financial decisions, like getting a mortgage.
Fill out LeverageRx’s mortgage form to compare 20+ doctor loan lenders and discover your options!
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Does It Make Sense to Buy a Home as a Resident?
Residents are up against many financial challenges. So does it even make sense to think about purchasing a home while you’re still in residency?
For some, yes.
For some, no.
It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a homeowner.
Here are some important things to consider before starting the loan application process for a mortgage:
First, consider if you plan to become a permanent resident of the city or state where you’re doing your training. If you only plan to stay in the area until your residency program is over, then the obvious answer is no — continue to rent and do not purchase a home.
Even if you can imagine yourself settling down in the area, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a job in the same area as your residency program.
Depending on where you’re training, it may make more sense to look for a full-time job in a state that has a lower cost of living. Or, find a job in a state with a higher pay rate for physicians in your specialty.
Before purchasing a home, research the market affordability in your area. For example, residents in New York and California will pay more for a home compared to residents in Iowa or North Dakota.
Consider the mortgage interest rates as well. Interest rates on conventional 30-year fixed loans soared to more than 7% in 2022.
The higher the cost of the home, the more you mortgage. Likewise, the higher the interest rate, the higher your monthly mortgage payment will be.
The Costs Associated With Buying a Home
The price of the home is not the only cost involved. Homebuyers must also make down payments, pay closing costs, cover title insurance, and pay inspection fees.
The down payment is the amount of money you put down upfront for a mortgage loan. With some conventional loans, you can put as little as 3% down, though that means you also have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
The down payment required depends on a variety of factors. These factors include the property type, your current credit score, and current mortgage rates.
Every buyer pays closing costs to their lender. These costs include origination fees, appraisal fees, and title insurance costs. Closing costs for homebuyers typically range between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of the home.
While not a requirement, an earnest money deposit shows a seller you’re serious about buying the home. In a competitive seller’s market, it can be the difference between losing out on the property or having the seller accept your offer.
Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be required to have a home inspection and a termite inspection. Inspection fees vary based on geographical region but are typically between $200 and $500.
Even if your lender doesn’t require a home inspection, getting one is a good idea. It’s how you determine if the house has any major problems, such as foundation issues, that could lead to costly repairs down the road.
Consider the added costs you’ll have to pay after purchase, such as homeowner’s insurance, HOA fees, and maintenance.
As a homeowner, there’s no landlord or maintenance team on staff to fix leaks, repair appliances, or alleviate a bug infestation. You’re responsible for the costs to fix or repair maintenance issues. For example, if your refrigerator breaks, your basement floods, or your heating or AC unit stops working.
Check out our complete guide to physician mortgage loans to learn more about current and future home-buying options!
Ready to Get Started? Find the Best Physician Mortgage Lender in Your State
Resident Physician Home Loans
If you think you want to purchase a home as a resident, a conventional mortgage is an option if you have a good credit history and little debt.
But there is another option:
A low-to-no down payment physician mortgage designed specifically for medical professionals. We sometimes refer to this as a “doctor loan.”
Physician mortgage loan programs offer zero-down options for:
- Other medical professionals
Through LeverageRx, you can even get jumbo loans, take advantage of relaxed debt-to-income ratios, and secure physician loans with no PMI requirement.
Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a physician mortgage loan.
The Advantages of a Physician Mortgage Loan
The biggest benefit of a physician mortgage loan:
Your education loan debt and debt from medical residency and relocation loans won’t negatively affect your debt-to-income ratio (DTI).
DTI can make or break your opportunity to qualify for a mortgage. The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the more qualified you’ll be to get a conventional mortgage.
The formula to calculate your DTI is:
Monthly Bills & Expenses ÷ Gross Monthly Income Before Taxes
All lenders will do a credit check. So it’s important that you meet the obligations of your student loan repayment schedule. That includes making on-time payments on credit cards and personal loans.
However, the amount you owe in student loan debt won’t disqualify you from getting approved for a loan. After all, physician mortgage loans look more at your earning potential than your current outstanding obligations.
Another benefit of a physician loan is that you can get a loan with a low or zero down payment and not have to pay PMI fees. With a conventional loan, PMI fees are usually required if your down payment is less than 20% of the total purchase price of the home.
The Disadvantages of a Physician Mortgage Loan
For many residents, the idea of adding mortgage debt to their existing student loan debt just doesn’t make sense. But for others, it’s a great opportunity to buy a home, start building equity, and stop wasting money on rent.
Just be sure you know the risks.
Buying More House Than You Need
Many lenders will try to dangle a larger loan in front of you than you need. Don’t be tempted by the opportunity to buy a bigger, more expensive home than you can actually afford.
Housing markets fluctuate. Additionally, physician mortgage loans offer little or zero down payment.
Therefore, there’s always the risk that your home could drop in value, and you could owe more on the loan than the home is worth.
If you’re considering buying a home while in residency and then selling it as soon as your residency ends, be extra cautious. The housing market has plummeted before and could do so again. This could make it quite difficult to sell your property for a high enough amount to cover what you owe on your mortgage.
Paying Variable Interest Rates
No matter the loan amount you take, your loan payments will be tied to either a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate.
Fixed-rate loans mean you’ll pay the same amount of interest from day one until the day you pay off your loan. Variable interest rates vary over time, so you might pay less now but pay more later.
Fixed-rates are always preferable, but most physician mortgages offer variable loan rates.
Should you choose a physician mortgage loan with variable loan terms, you do have the option to refinance. Refinancing can cost you money upfront, but doing so can lower your interest rate and save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
No matter which type of loan you choose to pursue, there are a few simple things you should do.
For one, be sure to read all mortgage loan disclosures. Make sure you also understand all of the repayment terms.
Compare different repayment options from different lenders before deciding which lender to choose!
LeverageRx Can Help You Find a Physician Mortgage
LeverageRx is ready to assist medical residents interested in obtaining a physician mortgage.
From smaller home loans to jumbo loans that allow you to borrow up to $1,000,000, LeverageRx can guide you through the process and help you find the lender that’s right for you.
LeverageRx knows the fastest way to get a physician mortgage from who qualifies to which lenders are best for residents.
Historically, real estate has been one of the best investments you can make. But as a medical resident, there are a few things to consider before buying a home.
Consider your current financial situation and your credit history. Of course, your budget and your long-term plans are important factors, too.
Think about where you want to live and work for the next few years. Consider the additional costs associated with buying a home as well. Those include closing costs at purchase and the costs of ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Whether you decide to buy while you’re still in residency or plan to wait until you’ve completed your training, purchasing a home is a huge decision. But getting a doctor’s mortgage loan doesn’t have to be complicated.
Learn how to get pre-approved for a home loan as a resident physician now with LeverageRx. Contact us at [email protected].
You may qualify for a home loan based on a number of factors — your successful completion of medical school, decent credit score, proof of income and more, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. Do some careful math to determine whether a mortgage will make more sense over paying rent.
A physician or “doctor” mortgage refers to a special loan program that a lender can use to attract and market to health care professionals, including residents. They often offer low down payments, no private mortgage insurance (PMI) and flexible debt-to-income ratios (DTIs).
Sometimes physician mortgage rates are higher because lenders don’t charge PMI on physician home loans and may take slightly higher DTI ratios because of doctors’ high student loans. They often make up for these shortcomings by charging higher interest rates.