Conforming Loan

The most popular and advantageous loan type available today is a conforming loan, which benefits both lenders and purchasers. If you're looking to purchase a home, it pays to understand how to obtain a conforming loan and maximize your savings on mortgage financing.

What is a Conforming Loan ?

A conforming loan is a mortgage that meets the funding criteria of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the dollar limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

The loans are approved and funded by conforming lenders, who then sell them to buyers like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The loans are sold to investors on open markets after being securitized. Conforming loans frequently have lower interest rates than non-conforming loans due to their liquidity and governmental requirements.

A mortgage loan that complies with the FHFA's loan size restrictions is referred to as a conforming loan. These requirements must be met for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be able to acquire your mortgage from your lender and turn it into an investment product. Because of their low interest rates, conforming loans are ideal for individuals with great credit.

Key Facts of FHFA Conforming Loan

  • A mortgage with terms and conditions that satisfy the funding requirements of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is referred to as a conforming loan.
  • Conforming loans are restricted to a specific dollar amount, which varies annually.
  • Compared to other mortgage options, conforming loans often have lower interest rates.
  • Because conforming loans may be packaged and sold in the secondary mortgage market, lenders prefer to provide them.
  • Each year, the conforming loan ceiling is adjusted to reflect changes in the national average price of homes, which varies by county in the United States.

How Does a Conforming Loan Work ?

Government-sponsored organizations that dominate the home lending industry include the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA, or Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC, or Freddie Mac). Mortgages for one-unit properties (single-family homes) must follow the standardized norms and guidelines established by these quasi-governmental organizations in order to qualify for the organisations support.

To achieve the FHFA's objectives of liquidity, affordability, and stability in the mortgage market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase mortgages in the secondary market. They either hold them in a portfolio or package them into securities.

Mortgages are not issued by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac directly. Instead, they serve as secondary market makers and insure mortgages issued by lenders like banks if those lenders decide to sell their mortgages.

But by law, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are only allowed to purchase conforming loans that are within the Federal Housing Finance Agency defined restrictions. The conforming loan restrictions are different by year and area. Other underwriting standards also apply to conforming loans. Lenders must abide by standards set forth by Fannie Mae that consider the loan-to-value ratio, the debt-to-income ratio, and the credit score.

How to Qualify for a Conforming Loan ?

It's not particularly difficult to be approved for a conforming loan. Neither 20% down nor excellent credit are required. Additionally, lenders are frequently flexible, which may help you be authorized if one aspect of your finances is a little weaker than another.

Conforming Loan Requirements

To be eligible for a conforming loan, you must have :
  • 620 or higher on the credit score.
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) often less than 45%.
  • Down payment of 3% or more.
  • Stable record of income and employment going back at least 2 years.

In general, to be eligible for a conforming loan, your FICO credit score must be at least 620. There is no government-imposed minimum credit score for USDA and VA mortgages.

Your debt-to-income ratio, calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income, is another factor that lenders consider. This amount includes your other monthly expenses as well as the mortgage payments you would make if the mortgage application is accepted. Sometimes a conforming loan can be authorized with a debt-to-income ratio of up to 50%.

You might need to provide a down payment to the lender. An adjustable-rate mortgage requires a minimum down payment of 5%, but a standard fixed-rate mortgage might be accepted for as little as 3%. 

Additionally, you might need to demonstrate that you'll have enough assets, known as reserves, to pay several months worth of mortgage payments after you purchase the home. The loan amount also cannot exceed the conforming loan limit for the county where the property is located.

What are the Conforming Loan Limits ?

The maximum amounts for conforming loans in various locations are known as conforming loan limitations. Each year, the FHFA determines conforming loan limits based on changes in the national median price of homes. The FHA adjusts its loan ceilings for the upcoming year every November.

Depending on where a residence is located, different conforming loan restrictions apply. For the most majority of the United States, there is a baseline limit. However, the conforming loan limit, also known as the ceiling limit, can go as high as 150% of the base in regions with high property prices.

The baseline limit is $647,200 for the most of the United States in 2022. The ceiling is higher in high-cost markets, such San Francisco and New York City. The 2022 ceiling for these areas is $970,800 or 150% of $647,200.

Different loan restrictions are set by special statutory provisions for Guam, Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In these areas, the baseline loan limit for one-unit properties is also $970,800 in 2022.

You can check the, Conforming Loan Limit Values by County and County Equivalent on FHFA’s map.

Conforming Loan Limits 2022-23

Standard Loan Limit

High-Cost Area

1 Unit



2 Units



3 Units



4 Units



Other Conforming Loan Rules

Along with the loan amount, conforming loans must also abide by rules regarding the borrower's loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, debt-to-income ratio, credit history and score, and specific documentation needs.

Debt ratios : 
A front-end ratio of no more than 28 percent and a back-end ratio, commonly referred to as the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, no more than 36 percent are ideal.

Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio :
Ideally, the LTV should be no higher than 80%; however, Fannie and Freddie also support traditional loans, which may have a maximum LTV of 95% to 97%, depending on whether the mortgage is adjustable- or fixed-rate or whether the borrower is a first-time home buyer.

Down payment/equity : 
Ideally, there should be at least 20% equity or 20% down for a refinance; however, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also support conventional loans with as low as 3% down.

How to Apply for a Conforming Loan ?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set the basic standards for conforming mortgages, although these agencies are not mortgage lenders. Lenders, banks, and mortgage brokers are responsible for making the loans themselves. Any lender that you choose to work with can accept your application for a conforming loan.

Steps to Get a Conforming Loan

There are several actions you can take to receive the best conforming loan possible for your situation :

1) Examine your credit score :
Check your credit reports at as far in advance as you can. Check your reports thoroughly for outdated information and factual mistakes.

2) Prepare your documents :
Gather your documents so that you are ready for the mortgage application procedure. Even though banks and the IRS can now provide lenders with a lot of information immediately, it's still a good idea to keep records like pay stubs, bank statements, retirement account statements, W-2 forms, and tax returns on hand.

3) Compare loan rates :
Compare mortgage offers from at least three different lenders when you have the time. When narrowing down the lenders you want to work with, take your requirements and preferences into account.

4) Obtain pre-approval :
Once you've identified a lender you'd want to work with, you can apply for pre-approval, which can speed up the financing process and reveal any credit issues before they surface when you formally apply for a mortgage.

5) Refrain from overspending :
Up until the day your mortgage closes, lenders can repeatedly check your credit report, credit score, and various financial accounts. Don't apply for any new credit, such as a credit card or personal loan, while your mortgage application is being processed, and refrain from making purchases you don't actually need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have conforming loan?
Using the loan lookup tools on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's websites, you can quickly determine whether you have a conforming loan. Your name, street address, and the last four digits of your social security number must be provided. Visit both of these websites because either organisation could be the owner of your mortgage.

What is a FHA versus conforming loan?
Since an FHA loan is backed by the government, it is neither conventional nor conforming. The minimum credit score requirement is lower (580) than for conforming loans (620). Additionally, it requires a larger down payment than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is 3.5 percent of the home's value. Another distinction is that FHA MIP normally lasts the life of the loan, but conventional PMI stops once your loan reaches a loan-to-value of 78 percent.

Do interest rates for conforming loans are better?
For customers with good credit, conforming loans often have the lowest interest rates. Veterans and active duty military personnel who are eligible for a VA loan are the exception. At any credit level, VA mortgage rates are frequently less expensive than conventional rates.

What are the benefits of conforming loan?
Because conforming loans pose less risk to the lender, lenders are typically more willing to make them available. Therefore, if you are authorized for a conforming loan, your interest rate may be lower than it would be for a nonconforming loan. The fact that conforming loans adhere to established mortgage rules is another advantage. If your application for a conforming loan is approved, you can be sure that it through a thorough review procedure to ensure that you have a good chance of repaying the loan.

What is the difference between a non-conforming loan and a conforming loan ?
A non-conforming loan typically does not comply with the standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whereas a conforming loan does. Borrowers who fall outside the parameters of conforming loans, such as those with significant loan amounts, poor credit, or non-traditional income, may benefit from non-conforming loans. However, the interest rates on non-conforming loans are usually greater than those on conforming loans.

Is conforming loan the same as conventional loan? 
One kind of conventional loan is a conforming loan. All conforming loans are conventional, which means that the federal government is not a backer of them. However, not all conventional loans are conforming because conforming loans must adhere to FHFA, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae lending guidelines.

Can I get approved with a lower down payment?
As long as the borrower pays private mortgage insurance, or PMI, a conforming loan may require a lesser down payment. In many circumstances, if you pay for PMI, you can obtain a conforming loan with just 5% down, or if you already have a Conventional 97, Fannie Mae HomeReady, Freddie Mac HomeOne, or Home Possible mortgage, you can do so with just 3% down.

What credit score is required to be eligible for a conforming mortgage?
Lenders are ready to accept an applicant with a credit score as low as 620 for a conforming loan because a larger down payment lowers their risk, but with two crucial conditions :
  • In addition to the rules set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, individual lenders are free to set their own, frequently stricter credit standards.
  • In most cases, a credit score of 620 will not be sufficient to obtain the best interest rate. Lenders strive for consumers with higher credit scores who represent less risk in order to offer the best rate available. You're significantly more likely to get the greatest deal if your credit score is 780 or higher.

How much money can I get in conforming loans?
The maximum conforming loan ceiling for loans that will be purchased by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has increased, according to the FHFA. If you want to know what to expect from your particular local area, the FHFA provides a comprehensive list of FHFA conforming loan limits by county in the United States. Limits range from one to four, depending on the number of units a dwelling contains.