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7 min read Jul 12, 2023

Jumbo Vs Conventional Loan: A Detailed Comparison

When it comes to financing a home purchase, two common options borrowers encounter are jumbo loans and conventional loans. Understanding the differences between these loan types is crucial for making firm decisions.

In this blog post, we will delve into the contrasting features of jumbo loans and conventional loans. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of these loan types, enabling you to navigate the mortgage landscape with confidence and select the most suitable option for your needs.

Is There A Difference between Jumbo Loan Vs Conventional Loan?

Yes, there is a difference between jumbo and a conventional mortgage loan. Here are the key distinctions:

Loan Amount: The primary difference lies in the loan amount. A conventional loan is a mortgage that conforms to the loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises. In most areas of the United States, the 2021 loan limit for a conventional loan is $548,250. Any loan amount exceeding this limit is considered a jumbo loan.

Loan Limits: Jumbo loans are designed to finance higher-priced properties exceeding those of conventional loans. The exact limit for a jumbo loan can vary depending on the location and the year. In some high-cost areas, jumbo loan limits can be as high as $1 million or more.

Down Payment: Jumbo loans generally require a larger down payment compared to conventional loans. While conventional loans can have down payments as low as 3% to 5%, jumbo loans often require at least 10% to 20% down payment. Some jumbo loan lenders might require even higher down payments, depending on the borrower’s financial profile.

Interest Rates: Interest rates for jumbo loans are higher than those for conventional loans. This is because jumbo loans are considered riskier by lenders due to their larger loan amounts. The interest rates on jumbo loans can vary based on market conditions, credit scores, and other factors.

Qualification Criteria: Lenders typically have stricter requirements for jumbo loans. They may require a higher credit score, lower debt-to-income ratio, and more substantial financial reserves. Since jumbo loans involve larger amounts of money, lenders want to ensure that borrowers have the financial capacity to handle the loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): PMI is usually required on conventional loans when the down payment is less than 20% of the home’s value. However, PMI is not typically required on jumbo loans since they already carry higher down payment requirements.

It’s important to note that these differences can vary depending on the specific lender and market conditions.

What Are Conforming Loan Limits?

Conforming loan limits refer to the maximum loan amounts that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are willing to purchase or guarantee. These loan limits are set annually by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and are based on median home prices in specific areas.

The purpose of conforming loan limits is to ensure liquidity in the mortgage market and affordable home financing. By establishing a maximum loan amount, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can standardize lending practices and promote stability in the housing market.

In most parts of the United States, the conforming loan limit for a single-family home is set at $548,250 as of 2021. However, this amount can vary depending on the location and property type. High-cost areas, such as metropolitan regions with higher home prices, may have higher conforming loan limits to accommodate the local market dynamics.

It’s important to note that loan amounts exceeding the conforming loan limit are considered jumbo loans. Jumbo loans come with different requirements and guidelines compared to conforming loans, including higher down payment thresholds, stricter qualification criteria, and potentially higher interest rates.

Lenders typically adhere to conforming loan limits to ensure that the loans they originate can be sold in the secondary mortgage market to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. However, it’s worth mentioning that some lenders may offer non-conforming loan products that cater to borrowers seeking financing beyond the conforming loan limits.

» What is the Conforming Loan Limit: Definition, Latest Mortgage Limits, and More.

Jumbo Vs Conforming Loan Comparison

When it comes to mortgage financing, borrowers often encounter two distinct options: Jumbo loans and conforming loans. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison of these two loan types.

Loan Amount:

  • Conforming Loan: A conforming loan adheres to the loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In most areas, the 2021 conforming loan limit for a single-family home is $548,250.
  • Jumbo Loan: A jumbo loan, on the other hand, exceeds the conforming loan limits. It is designed to finance higher-priced properties. Jumbo loan limits can vary depending on the location. They are typically higher than conforming loan limits, ranging from $1 million or more in high-cost areas.

Down Payment:

  • Conforming Loan: Conforming loans may offer more flexible down payment options. Some conventional loans allow down payments as low as 3% to 5% of the home’s purchase price.
  • Jumbo Loan: Jumbo loans generally require a larger down payment compared to conforming loans. Typically, a down payment of at least 10% to 20% is required.

Interest Rates:

  • Conforming Loan: Conforming loans typically come with lower interest rates compared to jumbo loans. This is because conforming loans are considered less risky to lenders, who can sell them to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in the secondary mortgage market.
  • Jumbo Loan: Jumbo loans often carry higher interest rates due to their larger loan amounts and perceived higher risk. Lenders typically price jumbo loans with higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk.

Qualification Criteria:

  • Conforming Loan: Conforming loans tend to have more lenient qualification criteria. Lenders typically consider factors such as credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and employment history when evaluating borrowers for conforming loans.
  • Jumbo Loan: Jumbo loans generally have stricter qualification requirements. Lenders may require higher credit scores, lower debt-to-income ratios, and more substantial financial reserves.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI):

  • Conforming Loan: If the down payment on a conforming loan is less than 20% of the home’s value, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is usually required. PMI protects the lender in case of default.
  • Jumbo Loan: Jumbo loans often do not require PMI since they already have higher down payment requirements. This can result in potential savings for borrowers.

In summary, jumbo and conforming loans differ in loan amounts, down payment requirements, interest rates, qualification criteria, and PMI. Conforming loans provide more flexibility for borrowers with lower down payment options and potentially lower interest rates. While jumbo loans are designed for higher-priced properties and may require larger down payments and stricter qualifications.

Factors Influencing Jumbo Loan Rates vs Conventional Loan Rates:

  • Credit Score: Both jumbo loans and conforming loans consider the borrower’s credit score. A higher credit score generally qualifies for more favorable interest rates.
  • Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: The LTV ratio, which compares the loan amount to the property’s appraised value, can affect mortgage rates. A lower LTV ratio may result in more competitive rates.
  • Market Conditions: Mortgage rates are influenced by broader economic factors, such as inflation, interest rate trends, and investor demand for mortgage-backed securities.
  • Loan Term: The term of the loan, whether it’s a 15-year or 30-year mortgage, can impact the interest rate. Shorter-term loans often come with lower rates.

It’s important to note that while jumbo loan rates are generally higher than conforming loan rates, individual circumstances can lead to variations.

Bottom Line

Understanding the distinctions between jumbo loans and conventional loans is crucial for borrowers seeking mortgage financing. Jumbo loans provide a viable option for high-priced properties, stricter requirements, and higher interest rates. Conventional loans offer greater flexibility with lower down payment options but have their own limitations. To make an informed decision, consult with a mortgage professional or lender who can guide you based on your specific needs and financial situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a jumbo loan a conventional loan?

A jumbo loan is not considered a conventional loan because it exceeds the maximum loan limits set by government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

How do I find a jumbo loan lender?

To find a jumbo loan lender, you can start by researching and contacting various mortgage lenders who specializes in jumbo loans, as they have access to a network of lenders that offer these types of loans.

Why are jumbo loans cheaper?

Jumbo loans can sometimes be cheaper due to lower interest rates compared to conforming loans, as they are considered less risky for lenders and often require larger down payments, resulting in a reduced loan-to-value ratio.

What factors will influence my jumbo loan interest rate?

Several factors can influence your jumbo loan interest rate, including your credit score, loan-to-value ratio, debt-to-income ratio, property type, loan amount, and the specific terms of the loan.


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