Jumbo vs. Conventional Loans: What to Choose

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In the world of mortgages, there are two major categories: jumbo loans vs. conventional loans. While conventional loans conform with the loan limit and conditions set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, jumbo mortgages do not. Jumbo mortgages make up only a tiny percentage of all mortgages in the United States. However, they can significantly affect the price you pay for your home.

So, you’ve found the perfect house, got the down payment, and are ready to apply for a loan. But what type of loan should you get? There are two main classes of non-governmental loans available to homebuyers: jumbo and conventional. While both can help you buy a home, they have different requirements, fees, and rates. We’ll break down each option so you can decide which is best for your situation.

Jumbo Loan vs. Conventional Loan: Understanding The Differences

Conventional and jumbo mortgages have qualifying restrictions that borrowers must satisfy, including baseline creditworthiness, income restrictions, repayment capacity, and down payments. These loans are provided by private lenders, not public institutions like the Federal Housing Administration or the USDA Rural Housing Service.

Despite having the same aim, these two mortgages vary slightly in several fundamental ways. Jumbo mortgages are utilized to buy homes with high asking prices, frequently over $1 million. Contrarily, conventional mortgages are lower and better suited to the requirements of the typical homebuyer.

Jumbo Loans

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According to its name, a jumbo loan is a mortgage used to finance expensive residences. Essentially, they entail large amounts of money, usually in the millions–at least $650k. Where conforming mortgages fall short, jumbo loans fill the gap.

Large, luxurious properties or other houses in competitive marketplaces are typically the focus of a jumbo loan. In contrast to conventional loans purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, jumbo mortgages are more significant than the FHFA’s restrictions.

Since a jumbo loan does not meet these boundaries, the mortgage market also refers to them as nonconforming loans. 

Affluent homebuyers with special requirements or interest-only loans that result in balloon payments—in which the whole borrowed amount is payable after the loan term—can also prevent jumbo loans from qualifying as conforming loans.

Notwithstanding this, several jumbo loans continue to follow the standards for eligible mortgages imposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, such as not permitting excessive fees, loan conditions, or negative depreciation.

Consumers need a high credit score to get approved for a jumbo mortgage. Additionally, applicants must be in a higher earning category because it requires vast funds to cover monthly mortgage payments and other related expenses. Borrowers must also have low debt-to-income ratios since financing restrictions have recently tightened.

Conditions for Jumbo Loans

If you’re a high-net-worth individual, jumbo loans may be for you. For borrowers to be eligible for this type of loan, a few requirements must be satisfied, and we will discuss those conditions here.

Credit History

Lenders tend to favor those with a high credit score. If your credit rating is well below 700, it is improbable that creditors will grant you a jumbo mortgage.

Income Documentation

To demonstrate that you have a solid, stable revenue source, be ready to provide two years’ worth of tax returns or other comparable evidence. Lenders will also want to see that you have sufficient cash assets to make your mortgage payments for at least six months.

Loan-To-Value (LTV)

Compared to a conventional mortgage, LTV requirements for jumbo loans can be stringent, frequently calling for an LTV of 80 percent or less. This indicates that the loan can finance 80% of the property’s original cost.

Down Payment

Due to the LTV standards, a down payment of at least 20% will likely be required upfront.

Debt-To-Income Ratio

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To qualify for a traditional mortgage, your debt-to-income ratio must be between 43% and 45%. Due to the size of the loans, creditors may frequently seek a DTI much lower than that for jumbo loans, preferably 36% or lower.

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Conventional Loans 

A conventional loan, technically speaking, is any home loan that is not insured federally. Therefore, everything provided and granted by financial institutions like banks, credit unions, and mortgage firms that aren’t FHA, USDA, or VA loans can be termed conventional loans or mortgages.

Conventional mortgages, as opposed to jumbo loans, can be conforming or nonconforming. The FHFA sets conforming loan limits, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac establish the lending criteria. These rules consider the consumer’s credit rating and history, DTI, loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and the loan’s size.

A traditional mortgage might be a privately funded loan not backed by the government. However, although nonconforming, jumbo mortgages may still fall within the category of conventional loans if they satisfy the criteria of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Every year, conforming loan restrictions are updated by a similar proportion as housing costs to keep up with the national average for home prices. The nationwide limit for a conventional loan for a single-unit residence in 2022 is $647,200, an increase from $548,250 in 2021.

Approximately 100 to 200 counties are ranked as expensive and competitive locations in the United States each year. In these places, maximum loan amounts in 2022 increased to $970,800 from $822,375 in 2021.

These places include Los Angeles, Nantucket, and New York City. Therefore, if loans in such housing markets were to surpass these values, they would be referred to as jumbo mortgages.

Provided a loan complies with the FHFA’s limitations and the conforming loan requirements, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will buy, organize, and resell almost any mortgage.

This is crucial since these government-backed organizations dominate the credit markets, making it much less hazardous for lenders to sell a mortgage to them. Therefore, lenders are much more likely to consider a request and provide favorable deals.

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Like a jumbo loan, a conventional loan demands a deposit, a specific income threshold, a specific credit score, and a low DTI ratio. Before a lender approves you for a conventional mortgage, a minimum credit score of 620 is required.

But not every conventional mortgage abides by these rules. These are called non-conforming mortgages. Due to the lack of government backing or marketability to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, eligibility requirements and conditions are left up to the lenders, making them sometimes more challenging to obtain than conforming loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Despite their size, jumbo loans frequently feature lower interest rates than conventional mortgages.

In reality, lenders often provide jumbo mortgage rates that are more budget-friendly than those for conventional loans. 

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Your credit score, LTV ratio, property type, occupancy type, and if you intend to buy a primary dwelling or a secondary residence are some factors determining the interest rate on a jumbo loan. Additionally, you’ll obtain a better interest rate for a primary residence. 

If you decide against using escrow, in which a third party keeps your insurance and tax funds until payment, and prefers to pay your insurance and taxes out of pocket, you can also see a rate hike.

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Similar to traditional loans, rates depend on standards set by the Federal Reserve and specific elements like the consumer’s credit score. Jumbo mortgage interest rates will fluctuate along with short-term interest rates set by the Reserve.

Borrowers will also be subject to stricter credit standards since these mortgages are more expensive than $500,000 and provide a significant risk to lenders. This is an example of a lower DTI ratio and a considerably higher credit score (typically at least 700). Additionally, borrowers must demonstrate to lenders that they have a particular quantity of cash on hand. 

Mortgage points, often called discount points, are a charge that applies to borrowers in exchange for a cheaper interest rate. Specifically, you are making payments ahead of time to lower the total cost of your mortgage over its lifetime.

A mortgage point costs one percent of your loan balance. For example, you would spend $3,500 to lower your interest rate by 0.25% if you took out a loan for $350,000. Although it might not seem like much, the interest on a loan can run into several thousand.

No. Numerous lenders often don’t demand PMI for jumbo loans since these loans require a larger initial down payment.

The Conclusion

When it comes to jumbo vs. conventional loan, there isn’t any competition. A jumbo loan is a sizable loan provided by private credit intermediaries and designated for expensive houses with a price tag of at least $650,000. An all-encompassing, more comprehensive word for any independently-issued mortgage is “conventional loan.”

The FHFA yearly sets a size requirement for conforming loans that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae can market. Any other conventional loan is regarded as non-conforming.

But the fact remains that a conventional loan is often smaller than a jumbo loan and has fewer restrictions and standards.

Like any loan, comparing various lenders’ offers will help you get the best bargain. Additionally, homebuyers can find favorable conventional and jumbo loan terms thanks to today’s record low mortgage rates.

Would you like to discover exceptional loan offers? A new home is an excellent investment at the moment. Interest rates are still at all-time lows, and there are plenty of rental properties for sale on the market. But before starting your house hunt, you’ll need to figure out what type of loan is right for you. That’s where we come in. We’ve got information on everything from fixed-rate to adjustable-rate mortgages, and we’ll help you select the solution that matches your requirements.

The mortgage industry is changing. To stay competitive, you must stay informed about updates in the mortgage industry and how to utilize the services available to you.

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Brenna Carles

Brenna Carles

I help people who want a place to call their home, where memories can be made, and stories to be shared. Where i can help clients build generational wealth for years to come. I provide the perfect combination of southern hospitality and relentless knowledge and passion for mortgage lending as if you were family.