As far as investment loans, little or no money down loans are impossible. However, lenders do permit the use of Home Equity Lines of Credit or second mortgages from other properties owned by the borrower as a source of down payment. Or, self-employed borrowers are using funds from business lines of credit to fund down payments or renovations (please note: there are asset seasoning guidelines for doing so and the debt incurred by accessing other credit lines must be accounted for against the borrower's debt-to-income ratio). Thus, we have clients leveraging themselves with other homes they own in order to get in with little or nothing down.
There are exceptions, but practically every lender requires Full Income Documentation on any investment purchase. Full Documentation requires the proof of income through W2s, pay stubs and/or tax returns, as well as proving liquid assets with bank statements. The max LTV is 85% on a non-owner single family property (75% for a 3 - 4 unit); however, most homes are being affected with the ‘declining market' tag. As such, the maximum loan permitted would be 80% of the purchase price. This is due to mortgage insurance companies refusing to provide MI on investment properties in declining markets. Also, if an investor does not have landlord experience in the past two years, new rules will now not allow any rental income to be included as monthly income. Hence, the buyer would need to qualify with the entire payment going against his/her debt-to-income ratio.
Another point to keep in mind is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are only permitting a maximum of 4 financed properties on a borrower's credit report. Hence, if a borrower is looking to purchase or refinance a fifth home and already have four loans on their credit, they will face a tremendous challenge in securing financing. This latter rule only affects someone purchasing or refinancing an investment property/second home and NOT an owner occupied purchase.
All this being said, if an investor can put down 20% (or borrow a good chunk of that 20% from other homes they own or lines of credit), is Full Doc, with a 680+ credit score and DTI below 50%, rates are in the upper 6% range on 30yr fixed mortgages with no prepay penalties. With home prices bottoming up in most neighborhoods, coupled with a bullish rental market with increasing rents and low vacancy, investors can easily generate hundreds of dollars of cash flow per month. In fact, many investors choose 15 year fixed mortgages to pay off the loan quickly, yet still cash flow tremendously.