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If you want to buy a higher-than-average-priced home and need to finance most of the purchase, you’ll need a larger-than-usual mortgage: a jumbo loan. Here’s how jumbos work, and what the current limits are, state by state.
Jumbo loan limits by state
Jumbo loan limits don’t always vary by state; they vary by the counties within those states. To determine whether you need a jumbo loan, start by looking at the state where you want to buy. Keep in mind that what qualifies as a jumbo loan might look very different in a county just a few miles away — with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, where the jumbo loan limit is the same no matter where you go.
The conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA) change every year. For 2024, the upper limit is $766,550 to $1,149,825, depending on location. Jumbo loans are mortgages that exceed these limits in their respective counties.
What are typical jumbo loan requirements?
When comparing jumbo loans to conventional loans, know that qualifying for the bigger-sized borrowing package tends to be more difficult. You’re borrowing more money, so a lender needs to feel even more confident you’ll pay it back. While every lender is different, here’s a look at some fairly standard jumbo loan requirements:
- Credit score – The minimum credit score required for a jumbo loan depends on the mortgage lender, but is usually at least 700. In comparison, conforming loan credit score minimums are typically 620 or 640.
- Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio – When it comes to DTI ratio, the lower the better, especially for a jumbo loan. Many lenders look for yours to be no higher than 43 percent.
- Down payment – The minimum down payment on a jumbo loan varies by lender. While lenders often approve down payments as low as 3 percent for conventional loans, jumbo loans typically have much larger minimums: 10 percent at the very least, and often 20 percent. Sometimes, you’ll need to put at least 25 percent down to get the lowest advertised interest rate.
- Cash reserves – Some lenders might want to see a sizable cushion of cash in your accounts, too. Be prepared to show that you have enough money remaining to cover between six months’ and 12 months’ worth of mortgage payments.
Why are jumbo loan limits necessary?
Conforming loan limits are set by the FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that buy the majority of U.S. mortgages from lenders and resell them on the secondary market to investors. Being able to sell a mortgage to the GSEs mitigates the lender’s risk if the borrower can’t repay. So, loans outside of the conforming loan limits, including jumbo loans, are riskier for lenders — since they have to keep the mortgages on their books.
How to shop for a jumbo loan
While they’re easy to find, jumbo loans aren’t all the same. Some lenders might cap the size of the loan at $2 million, $3 million or $4 million, while others might be willing to let you borrow significantly more, such as $5 million or $10 million.
Just as it pays to compare multiple lenders with conventional mortgages, you’ll want to consider a few different options for jumbo loans, too. You might also want to talk with a mortgage broker who can help you find options based on your specific needs.
Keep in mind, too, that interest rates have been rising across the entire home-lending landscape. Be sure to use Bankrate’s mortgage calculator to estimate how much interest you’ll be paying. If you see a rate that looks especially attractive and you’re ready to buy, it’s wise to consider locking it in before it jumps higher and that jumbo loan has an even bigger price tag.
Jumbo loan rates
For some time now, jumbo loan rates have been lower than the rates you’ll find on conforming loans. That wasn’t always the case, though.
Rates on jumbo loans are also tied to the credit profile of the borrower, just like any other type of mortgage. “Credit scores are a critical input in the lending decision,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate. “Lenders may use compensating factors such as higher income or significant assets to offset a deficiency in the credit score, and this tends to be more common in jumbo loans than the smaller conforming and government-backed loans.”