Mortgage Dove

Conventional Loans: Everything You Need To Know

Conventional loans have proven to be a popular option for most home shoppers, and a good alternative to other financing options. In this article, we will take a look at what conventional loans are, who can qualify for them and how to best utilize them.

What is a Conventional Loan?

In the case of conventional mortgage loans, they are considered "conforming" loans, which means that they meet the requirements of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-sponsored enterprises that buy and sell mortgages to investors. As a result, lenders can finance more qualified home buyers.

A jumbo loan, which exceeds the conforming loan limits, is one type of non-conforming mortgage.

There's no single set of requirements for borrowers when it comes to conventional loans since they encompass a variety of guidelines. Conventional loans, however, generally have higher credit requirements than government-backed loans.

A Guide to Conventional Mortgages and Loans

Conventional mortgages have a fixed rate of interest, which means the interest rate stays the same over the life of the loan. As conventional mortgages and loans are not guaranteed by the federal government, banks and creditors typically have stricter lending requirements.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) secures mortgages for banks, offering low down payments and no closing costs. In addition, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the USDA Rural Housing Service does not require a downpayment. To be eligible for these programs, borrowers must meet certain requirements.

Conventional vs. Conforming

A conventional loan is sometimes incorrectly called a conforming loan or mortgage. Although there is an overlap between the two categories, they are distinct. Mortgages that comply with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's criteria are known as conforming mortgages. One of those is an annual dollar limit set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In most continental U.S., a loan cannot exceed $647,200 in 2022 (up from $548,250 in 2021).

Not all conventional loans qualify as conforming loans, but all conforming loans are conventional. Unlike conventional mortgages, a jumbo mortgage of $800,000 is not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac since it exceeds the amount that qualifies.

There were 8.3 million homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages in 2020. There is an extremely large and liquid secondary market for conventional mortgages. Traditionally, conventional mortgages are packaged into pass-through mortgage-backed securities, which trade on a forward market known as mortgage to be announced (TBA). In many cases, pass-through securities are further securitized as collateralized mortgage obligations  (CMO).

How a Conventional Mortgage or Loan Works

Lenders have tightened the qualification requirements for loans since the subprime meltdown in 2007-"no verification" and "no down payment" mortgages are gone, for example. Overall, most of the basic requirements remain the same. To obtain a mortgage, a potential borrower must complete the official mortgage application (usually pay a fee), then provide the lender with the necessary papers, credit history, and current credit score documentation.

What are the Conventional Loan Requirements?

Down Payment

With a conventional mortgage, first-time homebuyers can get a loan with as little as 3% down. In general, down payments can vary based on your personal situation and the type of loan or property you're getting:

  • A 5% down payment is required if you are not a first-time home buyer or don't make more than 80% of the median income in your area.
  • A 15% down payment may be required if you're buying a multi-family home (i.e., a house with more than one unit).
  • It is necessary to put at least 10% down on a second home.
  • It is mandatory to make a 5% down payment if you are getting an adjustable-rate mortgage.

In order to refinance a conventional loan, you will need more than 3% equity. A minimum of 5% equity is required in all cases. You will need to leave at least 20% equity in your home when you refinance with cash out.

The mortgage calculator can help you estimate your future monthly payment based on your down payment amount.

Private Mortgage Insurance

When you put less than 20% down on a conventional loan, you'll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI protects your mortgage investors in the event that you default on the loan. You will have to pay PMI based on the type of loan, your credit score, and the amount of down payment you make.

There are other ways to cover the cost of PMI besides including it in your monthly mortgage payment. Some buyers pay it upfront as part of their closing costs. Other people pay it through slightly higher interest rates. The cheapest way to pay for PMI is to run the numbers and figure out which option works for you.

Fortunately, PMI won't be part of your loan forever - you won't have to refinance to get rid of it. Your lender can remove PMI from your mortgage payments once you reach 20% equity on your regular payment schedule.

Upon reaching 20% equity in your home, you should contact your lender for a new appraisal so the new value can be used to recalculate your PMI. You will be automatically relieved of PMI once you have 22% equity in your home.

Other Requirements

Credit score : To qualify for a conventional loan, your credit score must be at least 620. During the application process, your lender will check your credit history. In the absence of such information, you may not be approved for a loan.

Debt-to-income ratio : The debt-to-income ratio (DTI) measures how much of your monthly income you spend paying down debt. By adding up the minimum monthly payments on all your debts (like student loans, auto loans, and credit cards), you can calculate your DTI. Conventional loans require a DTI of 50% or less.

Loan size : To qualify for a conforming conventional loan, you must meet the loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Loan limits change every year. Single-family homes have a conforming loan limit of $647,200 in 2022. However, there are exceptions. Hawaii, Alaska, and other high-cost areas have higher loan limits, reaching $970,800. The Federal Housing Finance Agency  provides information about loan limits in your area.

What is the difference between a conventional mortgage and other types of loans?

Comparing conventional loans with other popular loan options will help you decide which loan is right for you.

Conventional Loans vs VA Loans

VA loans are only available to veterans, active-duty soldiers, and surviving spouses of veterans, while conventional loans are available to anyone who meets the requirements.

Loan requirements for VA loans are similar to those for conventional loans. It is important to note that VA loans come with some excellent features.

The first advantage of VA loans is that they require no down payment. Additionally, VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.

Consider these things if you're considering a VA loan instead of a conventional loan:

  • VA loans cannot be used to buy a second home. The Department of Veterans Affairs requires that VA loan holders occupy their purchased homes. VA loans do not allow second homes or vacation homes.
  • There will be a funding fee. The VA funding fee reduces the cost of getting a VA loan for taxpayers. Survivors, veterans with disabilities, and Purple Heart recipients serving in an active-duty capacity are exempt from the funding fee. The funding fee varies by down payment, loan type, and how often you've used the VA loan benefit. It ranges from 1.25% to 3.3%.

Conventional Loans vs FHA Loans

The credit requirements for conventional loans are stricter than those for FHA loans. Federal Housing Administration-backed loans require a 10% down payment and a credit score as low as 500 to qualify. The minimum down payment required for credit scores above 580 is only 3.5%. You must have a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for conventional loans.

You should consider the cost of mortgage insurance when deciding between conventional and FHA loans. The mortgage insurance premium for an FHA loan is paid regardless of how much equity you have if you put less than 10% down. In contrast, conventional loans don't require private mortgage insurance once you reach 20% equity.

Conventional Loans vs USDA Loans

In contrast to conventional loans, USDA loans can only be used to purchase properties in rural areas. A USDA loan may be a very affordable loan option for those who qualify. Conventional loans have no maximum income limit, but USDA loans have income limits that depend on the city and state where you're buying. In assessing your eligibility for a USDA loan, your lender will take into account not just the income of the borrower, but also the income of all household members.

Unlike private mortgage insurance (PMI), USDA loans  require borrowers to pay a guarantee fee, similar to PMI. The fee is 1% of the total loan amount if you pay it upfront. Alternatively, you can include the guarantee fee in your monthly payment. There is usually a lower guarantee fee than PMI.

What are the Rates for a Conventional Mortgage?

The interest rate on conventional mortgages changes every day. The interest rate on conventional mortgages is typically lower than the interest rate on FHA loans and slightly higher than the interest rate on VA loans. However, your actual interest rate will depend on your circumstances.

Conventional mortgage interest rates are determined by several factors, such as the loan's terms, size, and fixed or adjustable interest rate. In addition, they are determined by the current state of the economy or financial markets. Besides anticipating future inflation, mortgage lenders also consider supply and demand when setting interest rates.

Higher federal funds rates make borrowing more expensive for banks, which, in turn, increases rates on consumer loans, including mortgages. A lower interest rate is generally associated with the number of points you pay to the lender (or broker). A point costs 1% of the loan amount and reduces your interest rate by about 0.25%.

Final factors in determining interest rates include a borrower's financial profile, such as his or her assets, creditworthiness, and the amount of the down payment they can afford.

Although you can find estimates of conventional loan interest rates on many sites, applying for a mortgage will give you your actual rate. By submitting your application with Mortgage Dove, you will be able to see your true interest rate and payment.

"Mortgage Dove makes home financing convenient for every American. You can count on us to provide a home buying experience tailored to your personal needs and financial situation. We strive to give you the peace of mind that your home financing goals can be achieved.”


Other Related Articles you may be interested in