Conventional loans are mortgage loans offered by non-government sponsored lenders. These loan types include:
- Fixed Rate Loans
Conventional Fixed Rate Mortgages
The traditional fixed rate mortgage is the most common type of loan program, where monthly principal and interest payments never change during the life of the loan. Fixed rate mortgages are available in terms ranging from 10 to 30 years and in most cases can be paid off at any time without penalty. This type of mortgage is structured, or "amortized" so that it will be completely paid off by the end of the loan term.
Even though you have a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment may vary if you have an "impound account". In addition to the monthly "principal + interest" and any mortgage insurance premium (amount charged to homebuyers who put less than 20% cash down when purchasing their home), some lenders collect additional money each month for the prorated monthly cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance. The extra money is put in an impound account by the lender who uses it to pay the borrowers' property taxes and homeowners insurance premium when they are due. If either the property tax or the insurance happens to change, the borrower's monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly. However, the overall payments in a fixed rate mortgage are very stable and predictable.
Hybrid ARMs (3/1 ARM, 5/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM, 10/1 ARM)
Hybrid ARM mortgages, also called fixed-period ARMs, combine features of both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. A hybrid loan starts out with an interest rate that is fixed for a period of years (usually 3, 5, 7 or 10). Then, the loan converts to an ARM for a set number of years. An example would be a 30-year hybrid with a fixed rate for seven years and an adjustable rate for 23 years.
The beauty of a fixed-period ARM is that the initial interest rate for the fixed period of the loan is lower than the rate would be on a mortgage that's fixed for 30 years, sometimes significantly. Hence you can enjoy a lower rate while having period of stability for your payments. A typical one-year ARM on the other hand, goes to a new rate every year, starting 12 months after the loan is taken out. So while the starting rate on ARMs is considerably lower than on a standard mortgage, they carry the risk of future hikes.
Homeowners can get a hybrid and hope to refinance as the initial term expires. These types of loans are best for people who do not intend to live long in their homes. By getting a lower rate and lower monthly payments than with a 30- or 15-year loan, they can break even more quickly on refinancing costs, such as title insurance and the appraisal fee. Since the monthly payment will be lower, borrowers can make extra payments and pay off the loan early, saving thousands during the years they have the loan.
A jumbo loan is a mortgage used to finance properties that are too expensive for a conventional conforming loan. The maximum amount for a conforming loan is $726,200 in most counties, as determined by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Homes that exceed the local conforming loan limit require a jumbo loan.
Also called non-conforming conventional mortgages, jumbo loans are considered riskier for lenders because these loans can’t be guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, meaning the lender is not protected from losses if a borrower defaults. Jumbo loans are typically available with either a fixed interest rate or an adjustable rate, and they come with a variety of terms.