A conforming mortgage is one that, quite literally, conforms to the mortgage guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Each year, the government sets the maximum allowable loan size for a conforming mortgage, based on “typical” housing costs nationwide.
Loans in excess of this amount are typically called “jumbo”.
While home prices increased from 1980 to 2006, so did conforming loan limits. Since then, however, as home prices have dipped, the conforming loan limit has held.
Now, in 2010, for the 5th consecutive year, the government set $417,000 as the nation’s conforming mortgage loan limit.
The 2010 conforming loan limits, as released by the government, are:
- 1-unit properties : $417,000
- 2-unit properties : $533,850
- 3-unit properties : $645,300
- 4-unit properties : $801,950
But conforming loan limits don’t apply to all U.S. geographies equally. As a result of various economic stimuli since 2008, the government now considers certain regions around the country “high-cost” areas. In these areas, conforming loan limits can range to $729,750.
There are less than 200 such areas nationwide. The complete list is published on the Fannie Mae website.