Non Conforming Loan

By Damon Duvall
Sat, Aug 26, 2023 at 9:00AM

Non Conforming Loan

Understanding Non-Conforming Loan: Benefits & Requirements

Are you struggling to find a suitable mortgage due to your unique financial situation or credit history? Non-conforming loans could be the solution you’re looking for. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of non-conforming loan options, their types, benefits and potential drawbacks. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of these flexible mortgage options and how they can help you achieve your homeownership dreams.


Key Takeaways

  • Non-conforming loans are mortgages that do not meet the standards established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, providing increased accessibility to diverse borrowers.

  • Benefits of non-conforming loans include customizable loan terms but may also carry higher risk factors for lenders.

  • Careful consideration should be given when comparing conforming and non-conforming loan options in order to select the most suitable option.

Defining Non-Conforming Loans

Non-conforming loans are mortgages that do not adhere to the standards established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including FHA loans. These loans cater to borrowers who may not qualify for conventional loans due to factors such as lower credit scores or higher debt-to-income ratios.

In contrast, conforming loans are those that meet the guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are not supported by the federal government. Government-backed loans, jumbo loans, and alternative non-conforming loans are the three main types of non-conforming mortgages available.

Understanding how non-conforming loans work involves learning about the role of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market.

Role of Federal Housing Finance Agency

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is responsible for:

  • Supervising Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

  • Establishing criteria for conforming loans

  • Overseeing the stability and liquidity of the U.S. secondary mortgage markets, which includes the Federal Housing Administration

  • Providing research, data and policies that fortify and safeguard the industry

In essence, the FHFA sets the guidelines that determine which loans are considered conforming and which are not.

Government Sponsored Enterprises

Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks are quasi-governmental entities established to increase the availability of credit in specific sectors of the U.S. economy. GSEs purchase conforming loans from lenders thus providing liquidity to the mortgage market and allowing for the financing of more homes.

In doing so, they set the standards for what constitutes a conforming loan, which directly impacts the availability of non-conforming loan options.

Types of Non-Conforming Loans

After distinguishing between conforming and non-conforming loans it’s time to explore various types of non-conforming loans such as government-backed loans, jumbo loans, and alternative non-conforming loans.

Each type caters to a specific borrower group and offers unique benefits tailored to their financial needs.

Government-Backed Loans

Government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are insured by the federal government and cater to specific borrower groups. Here are some key features of each type of loan.

  1. FHA loans: offer competitive interest rates and relatively relaxed credit score criteria, making them an attractive option for first-time homebuyers with lower credit scores.

  2. VA loans: provide benefits to eligible military service members and veterans, such as no down payment obligation, lenient credit score criteria, and no loan limits. A VA loan is a great option for those who qualify.

  3. USDA loans: designed for rural homebuyers with low to moderate incomes, offering zero percent down payment options, low-interest rates, and accommodating minimum credit score requirements.

Borrowers must fulfill certain criteria to be eligible for these government-backed loans. Here are the eligibility requirements for each type of loan:

  1. FHA loans: require a down payment as low as 3.5% and a credit score of at least 580.

  2. VA loans: require a dependable income and a credit score of at least 640.

  3. USDA loans: necessitate a dependable income, a credit score of at least 640, and the borrower’s income must not exceed 115% of the median income of the area where the property is located.

Additionally, FHA loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for those who opt for a purchase money mortgage.

Jumbo Loans

Jumbo loans are non-conforming loans that exceed the conforming loan limits set by the FHFA, which for most areas in 2023 is $726,200. These loans allow borrowers to purchase more expensive homes, but with stricter qualification requirements due to the larger loan amounts involved.

Securing a jumbo loan typically requires borrowers to present a lower debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and a higher credit score than what conforming loans demand. Additionally, jumbo loans may come with higher interest rates due to the increased risk they pose for lenders, especially since they are not backed by any government guarantees.

Alternative Non-Conforming Loans

Alternative non-conforming loans cater to borrowers with unique financial situations, such as self-employed individuals or those with non-traditional income sources. These loans offer a wider range of loan terms, enabling borrowers to tailor their loan to their specific financial circumstances.

Some examples of alternative non-conforming loans include balloon loans, interest-only mortgages and payment-option adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). While these loans provide greater flexibility for borrowers, they may also present higher risk factors and be more difficult to find suitable lenders for.

Benefits of Non-Conforming Loans

Non-conforming loans offer various benefits, such as accessibility for diverse borrowers and customizable loan terms. These loans cater to a wide range of borrowers, including those with lower credit scores or higher debt-to-income ratios, providing more flexibility in loan requirements than conforming loans.

Furthermore, non-conforming loans allow borrowers to customize their mortgage to suit their specific financial situation and goals.

Accessibility for Diverse Borrowers

Non-conforming loans cater to a wide range of borrowers, including those with non-traditional income sources or credit challenges. For example, government-backed loans like FHA and VA loans offer lenient credit score requirements and lower down payment options, making them accessible to more borrowers.

This increased accessibility allows more people to realize their dream of homeownership, even if they don’t meet the stricter requirements of conforming loans.

Customizable Loan Terms

One of the key benefits of non-conforming loans is the ability to customize loan terms to suit the borrower’s specific financial situation and goals. From adjustable repayment options and interest rates to loan amounts that surpass the limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, non-conforming loans provide personalized solutions for borrowers with unique financial needs.

Yet, it’s vital to assess the benefits and potential downsides of customizable loan terms carefully, considering they might carry higher interest rates and fees. Additionally, not all lenders offer such flexibility so finding a suitable lender may require extra research and effort.

Potential Drawbacks of Non-Conforming Loans

While non-conforming loans offer various benefits, they may also have potential drawbacks, such as increased risk factors for lenders and difficulty finding suitable lenders offering these loan options.

Borrowers must consider the advantages and disadvantages of non-conforming loans before deciding.

Risk Factors

Non-conforming loans, especially jumbo loans, may carry higher interest rates due to the increased risk for lenders. Lenders cannot sell non-conforming loans to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, making them more of a risk. This is particularly applicable to jumbo loans, which do not have any government guarantees. Should the borrower default on a jumbo loan, it would be a significant loss for the lender. Therefore, lenders generally impose higher interest rates to make up for the potential risk.

To mitigate this risk, lenders may require stricter qualification criteria for jumbo loans, such as a lower debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, a higher credit score and a larger down payment. These requirements may make it more challenging for some borrowers to qualify for a non-conforming loan.

Finding Suitable Lenders

Finding a suitable lender for non-conforming loans may require additional research and effort, as not all lenders offer these mortgage options. Borrowers may need to:

  • Research mortgage lenders online

  • Request referrals from acquaintances and relatives

  • Contact local banks and financial institutions to inquire about non-conforming loan options

Evaluating the lender’s standing, customer service and loan terms is crucial when seeking out lenders who specialize in non-conforming loans.

Comparing Conforming and Non-Conforming Loans

Comparing conforming and non-conforming loans involves examining loan requirements, mortgage rates, and costs to determine the best option for a borrower’s unique financial situation.

Knowing the distinctions between these two types of loans empowers borrowers to make an informed decision about the loan that suits them best.

Loan Requirements

Conforming loans have stricter requirements, such as credit score and debt-to-income ratio, while non-conforming loans offer more flexibility in these areas. For example, conforming loans may require a higher credit score and a lower DTI ratio while non-conforming loans like FHA and VA loans may accept lower credit scores and higher DTI ratios.

Borrowers should assess their financial situation to ascertain if they fulfill the requirements for a conforming loan or if a non-conforming loan is more suitable for their necessities. By understanding the loan requirements and their own financial standing, borrowers can make the best choice for their homeownership goals.

Mortgage Rates and Costs

Mortgage rates and costs may be higher for non-conforming loans due to increased risk factors, but some government-backed non-conforming loans may offer competitive rates. For example, FHA loans may have competitive interest rates, making them an attractive option for first-time homebuyers or borrowers with lower credit scores.

However, jumbo loans often come with higher interest rates and fees due to the increased risk they pose for lenders.

In comparing conforming and non-conforming loans, borrowers should take into account the mortgage rates and costs linked to each type of loan coupled with their financial situation and long-term homeownership aspirations. By weighing the pros and cons of each loan option borrowers can make the best decision for their unique needs.

Refinancing Non-Conforming Loans

Refinancing a non-conforming loan is possible and can help borrowers secure lower interest rates or switch to a conforming loan. But finding a qualifying interested lender is the first step in the process. Refinancing involves exchanging an existing loan for a new one with different conditions which can be beneficial for borrowers looking to lower their interest rates or monthly payments. Or to switch from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate mortgage as most people are interested in.

To refinance a non-conforming loan successfully borrowers should initially locate a lender providing refinancing options for their particular type of loan. This may require additional research and effort, but the potential benefits such as lower interest rates or more favorable loan terms can make the effort worthwhile for many borrowers.


In conclusion, non-conforming loans provide an accessible and customizable mortgage solution for borrowers with unique financial situations or credit challenges. With various types of non-conforming loans available, including government-backed loans, jumbo loans and alternative non-conforming loans borrowers can tailor their mortgage to suit their specific needs and goals.

However, it’s crucial for borrowers to weigh the potential drawbacks, such as increased risk factors and difficulty finding suitable lenders, before committing to a non-conforming loan. By understanding the differences between conforming and non-conforming loans and carefully evaluating their financial situation borrowers can make the best decision for their homeownership dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered a non-conforming loan?

A non-conforming loan is one that does not meet the standards for purchase set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises that invest in mortgage loans.

These two entities set the standards for the majority of mortgage loans in the United States, so a non-conforming loan is one that does not meet their criteria. Non-conforming loans can be more expensive and difficult to obtain, but they can also provide more flexibility.

What's the difference between a conforming and nonconforming loan?

Conforming loans are typically backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and must meet their guidelines.

Non-conforming loans do not adhere to these guidelines and cannot be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, though they may offer borrowers bigger loan amounts and require less stringent financial criteria for approval.

Is a non-conforming loan a conventional loan?

No, non-conforming loans are not conventional loans as they exceed the FHFA conforming loan limits or do not follow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwriting guidelines.

These loans can help qualified homebuyers purchase more expensive homes with a lower credit score or limited down payment savings.

What is the difference between a non-conforming loan and a jumbo loan?

A jumbo loan is a type of non-conforming loan, which means that it exceeds the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). It usually requires higher qualification standards than conforming loans and allows buyers to purchase more expensive properties.

Jumbo loans are typically more expensive than conforming loans, as they carry higher interest rates and require larger down payments. Additionally, lenders may require borrowers to have higher credit scores and more assets in order to qualify for a jumbo loan.

What types of non-conforming loans are available?

Non-conforming loans include government-backed loans (FHA, VA, and USDA loans), jumbo loans, and alternative non-conforming loans.

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