Understanding Jumbo Mortgages

Jumbo Mortgages

A jumbo mortgages is a home loan that exceeds the limits set by FannieMae and Freddie Mac.How are jumbo loans different?

What differentiates jumbo mortgage loans is the loan amount. At present, loan amounts that are higher than $417,000 are usually deemed jumbo mortgages. This determination is made by comparing industry standards for average housing loans as governed by the two biggest secondary mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set industry standards for ‘conforming loans’; Home loans beyond those maximums are regarded as jumbo mortgages. These two agencies cap the dollar figure for loans that they will buy (that’s where the $417,000 figure comes from). Larger loan amounts are funded by other investors such as banks and insurance companies. Note that the dollar figure set to qualify jumbo mortgages differs by locale, so the limit is higher in Hawaii and Alaska (and in some other states). In the majority of the U.S., jumbo mortgages are those larger than $417K.

Available Terms – 15 Year Fixed, 30 Year Fixed, or Variable 30 Year

Jumbo Mortgage

The terms for jumbo mortgages vary similarly to other types of housing loans. Buyers can choose between variable rates, like 3/1 or 5/1 ARMs, for a 15-30 year jumbo mortgage, or a 15 or 30 year fixed jumbo mortgagerate.

Whether a 15 or 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage or an adjustable rate is best for you will depend on your plans and situation.

A 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is better for those whole plan to own the home for a very long time. With this type of mortgage, the rate will not go up but it will never go down, either – it stays the same for the life of the loan. This is good because the payment is predictable, and cannot rise sharply if interest rates do. On the downside, the 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage rate is higher since lenders know they can never charge more than the original rate.

The lowest jumbo mortgage rate is usually an adjustable 30 year jumbo mortgage rate. Lenders understand their potential to benefit from increases in rates over time, so they are willing to lend at a lower rate in the beginning. Although, the lower rate won’t last. A variable 30 year jumbo mortgage rate will be fixed for 3 to 5 years, and then will adjust annually according to an index. Even small increases could mean significantly larger monthly mortgage payments.

Going with an adjustable 30 year jumbo mortgage rate works well when a buyer plans to move within the 3 to 5 year fixed period. For a buyer more concerned with smaller initial payments, or who will likely refinance in the near future, the variable 30 year jumbo mortgage rate is better than the 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage. Why pay the higher fixed rate when the buyer knows this isn’t their long-term plan?

All jumbo mortgage products – 15 year, variable 30 year, or the 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage – have their benefits. A trustworthy mortgage lender with experience financing jumbo mortgages is a buyer’s best resource for determining which product is right for them.