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Jumbo Loan: Definition, Rates And Limits

5-Minute Read
Published on December 2 2020

If you’re looking to purchase a home in a pricier neighborhood, you may find that you can’t get a loan large enough to purchase your dream house. Don’t worry, you still have options.

Conforming loans are generally sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means that they must adhere to the limits and requirements set by these government-sponsored enterprises. Jumbo loans, on the other hand, are not, and can be obtained through private lenders.

Jumbo loans may be a good option for you if you need a larger loan than the local limit for conforming loans and don’t have the cash flow to put down a larger down payment.

An added benefit of this mortgage option is that there’s no mortgage insurance requirement. However, because this loan may come at a higher risk to the lender, it typically has slightly stricter qualification requirements than typical conforming loans that possess lower limits.

If a conforming loan just won’t cut it, read this article to gain a clearer understanding of jumbo loans, their qualification requirements and rates.

With this information in hand, you’ll be able to determine if a jumbo loan is right for you and can enter the mortgage process, knowing that you’ve made an informed decision.

What Is A Jumbo Loan?

A jumbo loan (or jumbo mortgage) is a type of financing where the loan amount is higher than the conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

The 2021 loan limit on conforming loans is $548,250 in most areas and $822,375 in high-cost areas. For borrowers interested in purchasing more expensive properties, jumbo loans are a valuable alternative.

Jumbo Loan Requirements And Limits

What you need to qualify for this loan will depend on what type of jumbo loan you’re getting and the amount you need to borrow.

There are a few loan types we’ll go over:

  • Home purchase
  • Rate or term refinance
  • Cash-out refinance
  • Investment property purchase or refinance
  • Land purchase


Jumbo Loan On A Home Purchase

If you’re buying a one-unit primary property with a loan amount of up to $1 million, you’ll need to have a minimum median FICO® Score of 700 and a minimum down payment of 20%.

The maximum debt-to-income ratio – which compares your minimum monthly installment and revolving debt payments to monthly income – must be no higher than 45%.

If the primary residence has more than one unit or the loan amount is higher than $1 million, you’ll have slightly different credit score requirements, and you’ll need to make a higher down payment – up to 10.01-25%, depending on the loan amount and type of occupancy.

Rate Or Term Refinance On A Jumbo Loan 

If you plan on doing a rate or term refinance on a jumbo loan, you’ll need to have a minimum FICO® Score of 700 and a maximum DTI of 45%.

The amount of equity you’re required to have in the home to refinance will depend on the loan amount. For a loan amount of up to $1 million, you must have at least 25% equity in your home. For loan amounts up to $2 million, you’ll need to have more equity in the home (up to 35%).

Jumbo Loan Cash-Out Refinance Requirements

If you have a primary, 1 or 2-unit property, you can take cash out with a jumbo loan refinance. However, there are limits to how much cash you can take out, depending on how much equity you have in your home.

These limits are as follows:

  • If you have between 30% and 50% equity in your home, you can take out up to $300,000.
  • If you have 50% or more equity in your home, you can take out up to $500,000.
  • These guidelines second homes and investment properties. Currently, the jumbo loan doesn't allow cash-out refinancing on second homes and investment properties.

Whatever the amount of cash you take out in your refinance, you must leave a certain amount of equity in the home. You'll need to leave between 20% – 30% equity depending on the loan amount.

Jumbo Loan On The Purchase Of Land

Whether you’re purchasing or refinancing, you may use a jumbo loan for a home on up to 20 acres of land. The land can’t be zoned for agricultural use.

Jumbo Loan Rates

Because there’s greater risk involved in lending large amounts of money, jumbo loans typically carry higher interest rates than conforming loans. However, jumbo loan rates can vary dramatically, depending on your lender, finances and down payment.

When mortgages are viewed as involving less risk, lenders may choose to offer rates that are in-line or even lower than conforming loan rates.

The extreme variation in jumbo loan rates makes it even more important to shop around before choosing a specific lender as each will offer different loan terms.

VA Jumbo Loans

Veterans or active members of the U.S. military can qualify for VA jumbo loans if they’re interested in purchasing homes that exceed the standard loan limits of their area. However, the requirements for VA jumbo loans are a bit more restrictive than they are for typical VA loans.

For VA loans, borrowers need to have a minimum FICO® Score of 620, but they don’t need a down payment. This is not the case for VA jumbo loans. To qualify for these higher loans, borrowers must have a minimum score of 640 and may need to make a down payment.

  • If you don't want to make a down payment on a VA jumbo loan, the median credit score necessary is 740.
  • A 680 median FICO® Score will allow you to make a 5% down payment.
  • With a 640 median FICO®, the down payment is 10%.

It's important to note that other lenders may have different policies.

If you have an impacted entitlement, meaning you have a partial entitlement but not the full amount, different down payment guidelines apply. We suggest speaking with a Home Loan Expert.

Is A Jumbo Loan Right For You?

If you’re trying to determine whether a jumbo loan is right for you, you should first consider whether you truly need one.

Remember, the conforming loan limit is $548,250 – and up to $822,375 in high-cost areas, like Los Angeles, New York City and Hawaii. If the property you’re interested in exceeds the limit for your area, you should see if making a higher down payment will make up for the difference. 

Assuming that you still require a higher loan amount, you must next consider your financials. Jumbo loans come with higher monthly payments. If you feel you can afford to make these higher payments comfortably, just make sure that you have a high credit score and low DTI.

A Jumbo loan can be the solution you need to pay for that perfect home. If you’re ready to get started, create an account with Rocket Mortgage®, so you can learn more about your options. And to go over your options in detail, feel free to speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (800) 785-4788.

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