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Types of Mortgage Loans
Conventional and Government Loans
Any mortgage loan other than an FHA, VA or an RHS loan is conventional one.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), administers various mortgage loan programs. FHA loans have lower down payment requirements and are easier to qualify than conventional loans. FHA loans cannot exceed the statutory limit. Go to FHA Programs page to get more information.
If you are looking for an FHA home loan right now, please feel free to request personalized rate quotes from HUD-approved mortgage lenders via our website.
VA loans are guaranteed by U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The guaranty allows veterans and service persons to obtain home loans with favorable loan terms, usually without a down payment. In addition, it is easier to qualify for a VA loan than a conventional loan. Lenders generally limit the maximum VA loan to $203,000. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not make loans, it guarantees loans made by lenders. VA determines your eligibility and, if you are qualified, VA will issue you a certificate of eligibility to be used in applying for a VA loan.
VA-guaranteed loans are obtained by making application to private lending institutions. If you are interesting in obtaining a VA-guaranteed loan you can try our VA loan request form.
Please see also pamphlets published by VA.
RHS Loan Programs
The Rural Housing Service (RHS) of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture guarantees loans for rural residents with minimal closing costs and no downpayment. Visit our page RHS programs for details.
Ginnie Mae which is part of HUD guarantees securities backed by pools of mortgage loans insured by these three federal agencies – FHA, or VA, or RHS. Securities are sold through financial institutions that trade government securities.
State and Local Housing Programs
Many states, counties and cities provide low to moderate housing finance programs, down payment assistance programs, or programs tailored specifically for a first time buyer. These programs are typically more lenient on the qualification guidelines and often designed with lower upfront fees. Also, there are often loan assistance programs offered at the local or state level such as MCC (Mortgage Credit Certificate) which allows you a tax credit for part of your interest payment. Most of these programs are fixed rate mortgages and have interest rates lower than the current market.
Conventional loans may be conforming and non-conforming. Conforming loans have terms and conditions that follow the guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two stockholder-owned corporations purchase mortgage loans complying with the guidelines from mortgage lending institutions, packages the mortgages into securities and sell the securities to investors. By doing so, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, like Ginnie Mae, provide a continuous flow of affordable funds for home financing that results in the availability of mortgage credit for Americans.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines establish the maximum loan amount, borrower credit and income requirements, down payment, and suitable properties. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announces new loan limits every year.
The national conforming loan limit for mortgages that finance single-family one-unit properties increased from $33,000 in the early 1970s to $417,000 for 2006-2008, with limits 50 percent higher for four statutorily-designated high cost areas: Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since early 2008, a series of legislative acts have temporarily increased the one-unit limit to up to $729,750 in certain high-cost areas in the contiguous United States. Permanent limits, which apply to the Enterprises’ acquisitions of certain mortgages originated prior to July 1, 2007, are set under the terms of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).
For every county and county-equivalent in the country, maximum loan limits for mortgages can be found at: http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=185
The 2013 conforming loan limits for first mortgages remain at the limits set in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011: