Mortgages that exceed the conforming loan limit are classified as nonconforming or jumbo loans. The terms and conditions of nonconforming mortgages can vary widely from lender to lender, but the interest rates and minimum down payment for jumbo loans are typically higher because they carry greater risk for a lender.
Conforming mortgage limits
The “Loan Limits” button below leads to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s FHA Mortgage Limits page. This interactive form allows you to look up current government and conforming loan rate limits for your area. If you need help with any of the terminology, check out our Glossary.
The following tips will help you find the correct information:
- Select California from the “State” dropdown menu.
- Enter the name of the “County” in which the property is located.
- From the “Limit Type” dropdown, select one:
- FHA Forward (government loans)
- HECM (reverse mortgages)
- Fannie/Freddie (conforming loans — most common)
- From the “Limit Year” dropdown, select the current year (CY).
- Click the “Send” button.
What is a conforming loan limit?
A conforming loan limit is the maximum dollar amount of a mortgage that the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) will purchase or guarantee. Mortgages that meet the criteria for backing by these two semi-government agencies are known as “conforming loans.”
Because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the principal market makers in mortgages, banks and other lenders count on them to insure loans that they issue, and to buy loans that they wish to sell.
Traditional lenders prefer to work with mortgages that meet the conforming loan limits because they are insured and easier to sell. Mortgages that exceed the conforming loan limit are known as “nonconforming” or “jumbo mortgages.” The interest rate on jumbo mortgages can be higher than the interest rate on conforming mortgages.
Because lenders prefer conforming mortgages, a borrower whose mortgage amount slightly exceeds the conforming loan limit should analyze the economics of reducing their loan size through a larger down payment or using secondary financing (that is, taking out two loans instead of one) to qualify for a conforming mortgage.