For most Americans, buying a home requires qualifying for a loan from a bank or other qualified lender. Conventional loans are by far the most common of all mortgage loans and represent over 60% of all mortgage loans originated in the United States. The other 40% are primarily FHA, VA or USDA loan types, which are similar to conventional loans, but have other requirements and benefits allowing American’s that meet the requirements to buy more home for less money. Because the majority of mortgage loans are conventional, the focus of this article is going to be on conventional loans and not FHA, VA or USDA loan types.
Conventional loans are also known as “conforming” loans because they conform to a set of standards established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are government, backed loans also known in the lending world as the Secondary Market. By originating conventional loans that conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards, after closing a loan, the lender can then group conforming loans together into a “pool” of loans and then sell them into the Secondary Market as a way of generating additional capital for the bank or lender. Most lenders sell loans into the Secondary Market but continue to service the loan, so these post-closing transactions are seamless and mean very little to you because none of the loan terms change.
Conventional conforming mortgage loans are used to purchase a primary residence, seasonal or secondary home, and rental property. They are fixed rate or adjustable (ARMs) and have terms ranging from 10 to 30 years. Conventional loans are a great option for today’s homebuyer. They offer great rates and low fees and down payments as low as 3%.
Here are some characteristics of a conventional mortgage loan: