Each year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes conforming loan limits for all loans eligible for purchase and guarantee by government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The current limits are $424,100 and $636,150, or higher, depending on housing costs in U.S. counties or territories.
Jumbo mortgages are simply loans that exceed conventional limits. Jumbo mortgage are non-conforming loans designed for the purchase of single-family luxury properties or homes in high-cost areas. They’re only available for owner-occupied homes, not vacation or second homes, or investment properties.
Without federal guarantees, lenders require unique qualifying and loan underwriting standards. Borrowers must have credit scores of 700 or above in order to lower their down payments to as little as five percent down. Income-to-debt ratios must fall between 36 percent and 43 percent, and borrowers must show liquid reserves equal to three to 12 months of mortgage payments, depending on the loan amount.
Lenders may have other requirements, and the final loan product must meet the Consumer Financial Protection Agency’s standards for a “qualified” mortgage. For example, a borrower who puts five percent down may be limited to a $1 million loan, while another borrower obtains a $2.5 million loan with 10 percent down. With 20 percent down, a $3 million mortgage is possible.
There are many advantages to obtaining a jumbo loan. Interest rates can approximate or equal those of conventional loans for qualified borrowers and can be deducted from federal income taxes on loans up to $1 million. As always, please consult your tax professional before making these decisions.
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