What is a 2-1 Buydown loan?

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This program reduces your rate and payment for the first two years of homeownership, freeing up funds and making it easier to afford to buy a home. Here's how to buy a home using a 2-1 buydown.
Check your 2 1 buydown eligibility here.

How does a 2-1 buydown work?

A 2-1 buydown is a program in which a home buyer, seller, and/or builder pays to temporarily reduce the buyer's mortgage rate, making the first two years of homeownership more affordable.

The seller kicks in enough money to reduce the buyer's mortgage rate by 2% in the first year and 1% in the second year. The mortgage carries the standard rate and payment in years 3-30.

Year Mortgage rate reduction
Year 1 2% rate reduction
Year 2 1% rate reduction
Years 3-30 Standard rate


Here's how a temporary buydown might play out using hypothetical interest rates.

Year Example rate Example payment ($300k loan)*
1 4.0% $1,432
2 5.0% $1,610
3-30 6.0% $1,799

*Principal and interest only. Taxes, insurance, or HOA are not included. Rates and payments are for example purposes only and do not reflect currently available rates. Not an offer to lend.

This structure saves the buyer $367 per month the first year and $189 per month the second year on a $300,000 mortgage. These extra funds can go a long way toward making a home more affordable when a new homebuyer needs it most.

Another buydown form that may be available is the 1-0 buydown. This is when the seller buys down the rate for the first year only.

Still another form of temporary buydown is when the buyer supplies the funds. However, you might have difficulty finding a lender who offers the buyer-financed option.

Adjustable rate mortgages are becoming more popular as rates rise. They are a great tool to reduce your rate and payment.

But they come with risks, too. Typically after five years, they can increase up to 1% per year for five years, leaving you with a very high rate.

A 2-1 buydown, however, is more predictable. It's a fixed-rate loan. You know exactly what your payment will be in years one, two, and 3-30. But it still gives you a low introductory price when you need it most: at the beginning of your loan.

If you like the idea of affordable homeownership when you start but don't like the idea of an adjustable rate, a 2-1 buydown could work for you.
See if you can buy a home using a 2-1 buydown.

The seller prepays a portion of each month's payment for the first two years, effectively bringing down the payment as if the rate were reduced. The rate on the mortgage does not change. Here's how that works.

The lender adds up the entire subsidy required to reduce the payment over two years. Then the seller contributes that much into an escrow account to be drawn on each of the first 24 months of the loan.

Here's an example of seller-paid incentives that reduce the payment on a $300,000 loan.

Year 1 Year 2
Standard payment $1,799 $1,799
Reduced payment $1,432 $1,610
Monthly reduction $367 $189
Annual reduction (monthly X 12) $4,404 $2,268
The seller pays a total 24-month reduction into an escrow account. $6,672

Rates and payments are for example purposes only and do not reflect currently available rates. Not an offer to lend.

In the example above, funds from the seller and possibly also the buyer effectively reduce the payment for two years by contributing $6,672 towards the payments.

The seller or builder might offer a temporary buydown to attract more buyers to the property. Or, the buyer could request this incentive if they are considering a home with no other offers or is priced too high.

The market is changing in mid-2022. Rates are rising, and sellers are not getting as many offers as they used to. Additionally, buyers are finding it harder to afford a home as rates climb.

A 2-1 or 1-0 buydown could attract a buyer and encourage an offer on one home over others. It could be a win-win for the buyer and seller.

Typically these work best when the seller or builder is paying for most of the temporary buydown. But, you're allowed to contribute to your own buy down as well, with limits.

Also, they are typically only for a 1-2 unit home you plan to live in. No triplexes, fourplexes, or investment properties

Additionally, you can only combine a 2-1 buydown with certain loan types. Check with your lender if you use an FHA loanVA loanUSDA loanHomeReady, or other programs. Sometimes a buydown is compatible, sometimes not.

Keep in mind that there are limits to how much the seller can contribute toward the purchase. A buydown is considered an interested party contribution or IPC, and these are limited on nearly every loan type.

For instance, if you're putting less than 10% down on a conventional loan, the seller contribution maximum is 3% of the home's price. On a $300,000 home, that's $9,000. Combined contributions from the seller, agent, lender, or any other party in the transaction can't exceed that amount. The contribution limits rise with a higher down payment.

As the buyer, you're limited to paying 3% toward your own rate reduction due to lending rules.

Check with your lender for your loan type and down payment amount, and make sure the 2-1 buydown total falls within guidelines.

No. You have to qualify to assume the full payment. So a 2-1 buydown doesn't help you qualify for the loan if your debt-to-income ratio is too high.

A temporary buydown works great for many situations

  • Those whose income will increase in the next two years
  • When a spouse will return to the workforce in 1-2 years
  • Buyers who want a lower initial payment but don't want an adjustable-rate loan
  • Anyone wanting a lower payment in the first years of homeownership