July 27, 2023
Loan-to-value (LTV) is a frequently employed ratio in mortgage financing to evaluate how much of the deposit is required and if a creditor would give credit to a borrower. Lenders prefer lower LTVs, although they need bigger down payments from borrowers. When the loan-to-value ratio is within or below 80%, most financial institutions provide the lowest feasible interest rate to mortgage and home equity borrowers. Mortgages grow more costly for borrowers with increasing loan-to-value ratios. For economically disadvantaged applicants, Fannie Mae's HomeReady and Freddie Mac's Home Possible mortgage initiatives offer an LTV ratio of 97% (3% down payment) but need mortgage insurance (PMI) until the ratio drops to 80%.

What is loan-to-value?

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is a risk evaluation that financial organizations and other creditors use before authorizing a mortgage. Loan evaluations with high LTV ratios are often considered higher-risk loans. As a result, if the loan is authorized, the interest rate will be greater. Furthermore, a loan with an elevated level of LTV ratio might need the debtor to acquire mortgage insurance to mitigate the lender's risk. It is referred to as private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Elaborating on the Loan-to-Value Ratio

The loan-to-value ratio denotes the connection between the loan amount and the property value used as insurance/collateral for the mortgage. It assists lenders in determining the amount of risk involved with granting a certain loan application. As a minimum requirement, lenders provide home buyers with two options for acquiring a property.

First, if they evaluate the ratio and determine the dangerous amount, they will only agree to accept lending up to a certain amount. In this case, a person agrees to accept the permitted amount based on the LTV and pays the remainder out of their pocket as a deposit for the property they purchase, whether a home or a vehicle. The same property is used as security for the mortgage loan.

Second, mortgage lenders may require debtors to sign a mortgage insurance agreement to limit some risk in the case of failure. This kind of insurance is known as private mortgage insurance (PMI). The LTV ratio is the risk proportion for creditors if the debtors fail to pay back.

Computation of the loan-to-value ratio

Homebuyers interested in purchasing a house may quickly compute the LTV ratio. The formula is as follows:

LTV ratio = MA​ / APV


     MA = Mortgage Amount

     APV = Appraised Property Value​

An LTV ratio is determined as a percentage by dividing the amount borrowed by the property's appraised value. However, LTVs may be computed or obtained in various methods depending on the beginning point. Here are a few examples:

·       Required minimum equity

A great instance is residential real estate.

An investor may have a "minimum equity" requirement (consider a house purchase) - maybe a 10% (0.10) deposit on the buying price. The maximum LTV in such a situation would be 90% (1-minus 0.10) multiplied by 100 to represent a percentage.

·       Maximum risk tolerance

A business borrower trying to finance production machinery is an excellent example.

Many business creditors want an insurance policy between the loan amount and the asset's value. Maybe the risk team of a financial organization believes they can simply dispose of the equipment at a 20% discount.

That likely means they are ready to lend no more than 80% of the asset's LTV. Consider it 1-minus the "equity buffer."

·       Cash flow

A prime instance is commercial mortgages. Numerous commercial financial institutions base credit decisions on the cash flow of a property's tenants.

They often employ a mortgage ability computation to do this. A financial analyst will check here to determine a property's future net operating income (NOI) and then work backward using an estimated interest rate and a minimal debt-service need to create a present value of those future cash flows.

No matter the current value that is the maximum credit amount they will offer. The maximum LTV (in percentage terms) is equal to the loan sum divided by the present appraised value of the real estate (multiplied by 100).

Interpretation of the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio concept

Calculating an LTV ratio is an important part of mortgage underwriting. It may be used to purchase a house, refinance an existing mortgage into a new loan, or borrow against accumulated value in an asset.

Creditors use the LTV ratio to evaluate the degree of risk they are willing to assume when approving a mortgage. When debtors seek a loan for a sum at or near the assessed value (with a more substantial LTV ratio), lenders believe the loan is more likely to default. It is because the property has very little equity.

Consequently, in the case of bankruptcy, the financial institution may struggle to sell the house for enough to satisfy the remaining mortgage sum while still making a profit. The deposit, selling price, and assessed value of an asset are the key elements that influence LTV ratios. An elevated deposit and reduced sales price result in the lowest LTV ratio.

Differences in LTV ratio guidelines

Regarding LTV ratio regulations, various loan kinds may have varying criteria. The following are the variations of the rules;

·       FHA mortgages

FHA loans are mortgages geared for borrowers with low-to-moderate income. They are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and issued by an FHA-approved lender. FHA loans provide lower down payments and credit requirements than many commercial loans. FHA loans offer an initial LTV ratio of up to 96.5%, but they demand a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) paid for the life of the loan (regardless of how low the LTV ratio subsequently becomes). Many customers modify their FHA loans after their LTV ratio approaches 80% to avoid paying the MIP.

·       USDA and VA loans

Even though the LTV ratio may be as high as 100%, VA and USDA loans, which are accessible to current and former military personnel and those who inhabit rural areas, do not need private mortgage insurance. However, there are extra costs for both VA and USDA loans.

·       Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae's HomeReady and Freddie Mac's Home Possible mortgage programs offer an LTV ratio of 97% for economically disadvantaged applicants. However, they need mortgage insurance unless the ratio falls below 80%.

There are simplified refinancing alternatives for FHA, VA, and USDA loans. These waive appraisal standards; thus, the LTV ratio of the house has no bearing on the loan. Freddie Mac's enhanced relief refinance and Fannie Mae's High loan-to-value refinance chances are also accessible alternatives for borrowers with an LTV ratio of more than 100%, sometimes described as being "underwater" or "upside down."

In May 2023, the upfront costs on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages changed. Charges for homeowners with better credit scores, such as 740 or above, were raised, while fees for home purchasers with poorer credit ratings, like those below 640, were reduced. Another difference is that your deposit will impact your charge. The higher the deposit, the lesser your costs. However, your credit score will still be considered. Loan-level price changes are available on Fannie Mae's website.


Comprehending how creditors obtain an actual value (as opposed to which they may offer credit) is critical, especially for commercial lenders. Three major value categories are employed in general. They are as follows:

       i.     Book worth/value

The value on an organization's balance sheet is known as book value. When calculating an acceptable "borrowing base" for operational credit, for instance, the book value of a company's A/R (accounts receivable) is sometimes employed as a starting point.

However, since it is provided net of depreciation, book value is a far less accurate indicator of an asset's true market worth concerning tangible assets (and term finance). Because depreciation is a fictitious, non-cash cost utilized for accounting reasons, book value often does not correspond to the actual functional lifespan of the primary asset.

     ii.     Buying cost/price

When purchasing new PP&E (property, plant, and equipment), the purchase price is an obvious proxy for value. However, it is effective when a company buys new machinery for which an invoice is produced, and the cost is known.

When a corporation buys secondhand equipment or leverages clear title assets it already possesses, the purchase price is inefficient for determining asset value. In such instances, a lender will consider using an appraisal.

    iii.     Estimated value

An appraisal is a third-party professional's evaluation of the worth of an item. They are utilized for many assets, although business lenders are often concerned with corporate property and machinery evaluations. The commercial property appraisal process is complex, aiming to provide a range of fair value estimates and identify property-specific dangers and red flags.

Equipment evaluations are comparable to real estate appraisals but are often less extensive. Three particular value estimations are often included in equipment assessments. They are as follows:

·       Fair market value (FMV): FMV is a directive assessment of the asset's "price" based on a regular liquidation procedure, including numerous knowledgeable bidders.

·       Orderly liquidation value (OLV): OLV reflects a commodity's liquidation value if it were sold through auctions by a financial institution in an "orderly" manner, which means that time was important, yet numerous knowledgeable parties were present.

·       Forced liquidation value/ worth (FLV): An asset's FLV is the most cautious assessment of its worth. It indicates the asset's estimated value without an orderly liquidation procedure.

Suppose a creditor's credit regulation allows for 75% LTV on secondhand goods. In that case, the lender, risk supervisor, and the customer must comprehend whether this is 75% of FMV, OLV, or FLV to ensure that standards match.

Importance of the LTV

Lenders provide loans so they may collect interest payments. However, when a loan goes bad (due to nonpayment, technical default, violation of the covenant, or any other reason), the lender's priority reduces the likelihood of a loss.

When a financier cannot recuperate all its outstanding loan exposure, it suffers a loan loss. One strategy to mitigate the risk of loan loss is to build a safety net between the loan balance and the asset's market value in case of a borrower default and the lender's need to sell the collateral.

Creditors often are unlikely to debt finance the whole worth of an asset if the lender is not also putting up some of their own money (also known as "skin in the game"). A debtor may be more inclined to default on a loan when they have no personal investment in the outcome (i.e., they have nothing to lose by not repaying the debt).

Market dynamics and LTVs

LTVs are important for various reasons, not just those we discussed.

All else being equal, most financial institutions would prefer more restricted credit arrangements (including lower LTVS) across the board since they lessen the risk of loan loss. However, lenders, like any other company, are susceptible to market circumstances and competitive dynamics.

Several lenders have been pushed to relax loan standards and boost what are deemed "market" LTVs due to pressure in the banking sector and the finance industry more generally (including fintech). Those who do not risk losing out on new client chances. To stay competitive (but also responsible) in their loan origination operations, financial services companies must regularly review their credit risk tolerance in the context of market pressures.

LTV versus combined LTV

While the LTV ratio considers the influence of a single mortgage loan when buying a home, the combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio considers the total value of all secured loans on a property. It entails the principal mortgage in the LTV calculation and any second mortgages, lines of credit, home equity loans, or other liens.

Creditors employ the CLTV ratio to estimate a potential house buyer's risk of default when multiple loans are employed, including at least two mortgages or a mortgage with a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC). Creditors are often prepared to lend at CLTV ratios of 80% or higher to borrowers with excellent credit. Because it is a more comprehensive assessment, primary lenders are more lenient with CLTV standards.


Creditors use the Loan Value (LTV) ratio to gauge how much of a financial risk they are willing to take by extending credit to borrowers to the value of the collateral provided by the property. Before deciding whether or not to provide a mortgage loan, creditors and lenders look at this percentage. The loan applicants are given the green light if the ratio checks out.