For the 4th consecutive year, the government has set the conforming mortgage loan size limit at $417,000.
A conforming mortgage is one that, quite literally, conforms to the mortgage guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
The 2009 conforming loan limits, as released by the government, are:
- 1-unit properties : $417,000
- 2-unit properties : $533,850
- 3-unit properties : $645,300
- 4-unit properties : $801,950
Loans in excess of conforming loan limits are more commonly called "jumbo", or "super jumbo" home loans, depending on their size.
Out-sized mortgages like these are often more costly than their conforming-mortgage counterparts because jumbo loans are not guaranteed by the U.S. government like Fannie Mae loans are.
There are exceptions to the loan limits, however.
Left over from the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, specific, "high-cost" areas around the country have their own conforming loan limits, not to exceed $625,500. There are 59 designated high-cost regions in the U.S., most of which are in California.
Loan limits are re-assigned each year, based on "typical" housing costs around the country. Since 1980, as home prices have increased, so have conforming loan limits. As home prices have fallen in recent years nationwide, however, the conforming loan limit has not.