Those who live in pricey housing markets or are thinking of upgrading to fancier homes are finding it "less difficult" to get jumbo mortgages these days, says David Adamo of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn.
Jumbo loans are mortgages that exceed Fannie and Freddie conforming loan limits. The agencies limit the size of loans they are willing to buy, to minimize risks. The limits vary by location but it is $417,000 in most areas and as high as $729,500 in high-cost areas.
Fannie and Freddie are set to reduce their maximum loan limits in October, and that will make jumbo loans crucial to many homebuyers in high-cost areas.
During the housing boom, borrowers could get jumbo loans with little or no income documentation and with down payments of as little as 5 percent. That's no longer the case. Borrowers generally need at least 20 percent down to get a jumbo loan. Since the crash, the jumbo market almost came to a halt as jumbo loan originations dropped from more than $500 billion a year in their heyday to less than $100 billion in 2010. But that market has been slowly improving and more lenders offer jumbo loans. Adamo says he expects the jumbo originations to reach $150 billion to $200 billion this year.
"We definitely have more jumbo loan products available than in the past," Adamo says. "As a result we are making more jumbo loans than we used to."