Combined Loan-to-Value (CLTV) Ratio Definition and Formula

Combined Loan-To-Value Ratio

Investopedia / Jake Shi

What Is the Combined Loan-to-Value (CLTV) Ratio?

The combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio is the ratio of all secured loans on a property to the value of a property. Lenders use the CLTV ratio to determine a prospective borrower's risk of default when more than one loan is used.

The CLTV differs from the simple loan-to-value (LTV) ratio in that the LTV only includes the first or primary mortgage in its calculation.

Key Takeaways

  • CLTV ratio is the ratio of all loans on a property to the property's value.
  • Lenders consider CLTV ratios in determining the risk of a borrower defaulting.
  • In general, most lenders are willing to lend to borrowers with CLTV ratios of 80% and below.
  • The real estate bubble of 2008-2009 underscored the relevance of keeping an eye on CLTV ratios.

Formula and Calculation of CLTV Ratio

A CLTV ratio is calculated by dividing the amount of all loans on the property, including the one you are applying for, by its value. It is expressed as a percentage. In general, lenders are willing to lend at CLTV ratios of 80% and below to borrowers with high credit ratings. The following formula can be used to calculate combined loan to value (CLTV) ratio:

What CLTV Ratio Shows

Combined loan to value (CLTV) ratio is a calculation used by mortgage and lending professionals to determine the total percentage of a homeowner's property that has liens (debt obligations) compared to the value of the property. Lenders use the CLTV ratio along with a handful of other calculations, such as the debt-to-income ratio and the standard loan to value (LTV) ratio, to assess the risk of extending a loan to a borrower.

Many economists consider relaxed CLTV standards to be one of the factors that contributed to the foreclosure crisis that plagued the United States during the late 2000s. Beginning in the 1990s and especially during the early and mid-2000s, homebuyers frequently took out second mortgages at the time of purchase in lieu of making down payments. Lenders eager not to lose these customers' business to competitors agreed to such terms despite the increased risk.

Prior to the real estate bubble that expanded from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, the standard practice was for homebuyers to make down payments totaling at least 20% of the purchase price. Most lenders kept customers within these parameters by capping LTV at 80%.

When the bubble began to heat up, many of these same companies took steps to allow customers to get around putting 20% down. Some lenders raised LTV caps or did away with them completely, offering mortgages with 5% down payments or less, while others kept LTV requirements in place but raised CLTV caps, often to 100%. This maneuver enabled customers to take out second mortgages to finance their 20% down payments.

The foreclosure spike beginning in 2008 underscored why CLTV is important. Having skin in the game, such as a $100,000 initial cash outlay for a $500,000 house, provides a homeowner with a powerful incentive to keep up with mortgage payments. If the bank forecloses, a homeowner not only loses their home, but also the pile of cash they paid to close on the property. Requiring equity in the property also insulates lenders from a dip in real estate prices.

Special Considerations

Some homebuyers choose to lower their down payment by receiving multiple mortgages on a property, which results in a lower loan-to-value ratio for the primary mortgage. Also, because of the lower LTV ratio, many homebuyers successfully avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). Whether it is better to obtain a second mortgage or incur the cost of PMI depends on the particular circumstances of the borrower.

Consequently, because the second mortgagor assumes more risk, the interest rate on a second mortgage is typically higher than the interest rate on a first mortgage.

Borrowers should always consider the advantages and disadvantages of taking out multiple loans on one property. Exercising due diligence will help ensure that what is chosen is the best option for the given circumstances.

Example of CLTV Ratio

Let's say you are purchasing a home for $200,000. To secure the property, you provided a down payment of $50,000 and received two mortgages: one for $100,000 (primary) and one for $50,000 (secondary). Your combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) is 75%: (($100,000 + $50,000) / $200,000).

Loan-to-Value vs. CLTV

Loan-to-value (LTV) and CLTV are two of the most common ratios used during the mortgage underwriting process. Most lenders impose maximums on both values, above which the prospective borrower is not eligible for a loan. The LTV ratio considers only the primary mortgage balance, while the CLTV factors in all loans on the property, such as home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Most lenders impose LTV maximums of 80%. Borrowers with good credit profiles can circumvent this requirement but must pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) as long as their primary loan balance is greater than 80% of the home's value. PMI protects the lender from losses when a home's value falls below the loan balance.

Primary lenders tend to be more generous with CLTV requirements. Considering the example above, in the event of a foreclosure, the primary mortgage holder receives its money in full before the second mortgage holder receives anything. If the property value decreases to $125,000 before the borrower defaults, the primary lien-holder receives the entire amount owed ($100,000), while the second lien-holder only receives the remaining $25,000 despite being owed $50,000. The primary lien-holder shoulders less risk in the case of declining property values and can afford to lend at a higher CLTV.

How Does My CLTV Ratio Impact Rates?

In general, a borrower with a high CLTV ratio is considered higher risk by a lender. This results in a higher interest rate if the loan is approved.

What Is a Good CLTV Ratio?

Lenders generally like to see a CLTV ratio of 80% or less. Borrowers will also need good credit scores.

What Loans Does a CLTV Ratio Include?

When calculating a CLTV ratio, lenders include all secured loans on the property. This includes first mortgages, second mortgages, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Article Sources
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