Higher Rates For Conforming High Balance Mortgages

Why conforming high balance mortgage loans typically contain higher rates. Tips on getting lowest rate.

If you are in the market for a mortgage refinance or home purchase, plan to pay more if you are borrowing more than the conforming loan limit. The national conforming loan limit for the best mortgage rates is $417,000 extending through December 31, 2013. If your loan is up to $417,000 or lower, generally you’ll be in the conforming loan category. $417,000 is the benchmark loan amount for one unit properties (such as a single family residence) in every state other than Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the US Virgin Islands. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bundle and securitize these loans for sale in the secondary market and continue to show large demand for conforming home loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also bundle and securitize bigger loans in certain “higher cost counties” nationwide. These loans often exceed the conforming limit of $417,000, these loans are referred to as Conforming High Balance. While these loan amounts exceed $417,000 they’re still considered “conforming” so long as the amount financed do not exceed the high cost loan limit in a county/state in which the property resides.

Taking a look at Sonoma County, California the conforming loan limit is $417,000 however, the higher cost loan limit is up to $520,950, thus any loans amounts above and beyond the $417,000 to $520,950 are considered to be conforming high balance mortgages.

 How mortgage rates compare on Conforming Vs. Conforming High Balance Mortgages

Following is an average mortgage rate pricing scenario assuming no discount points…

Loan Amount Financed  $            417,000  $         520,950
Interest Rate



Payment (P&I)




Why conforming high balance mortgage loans cost more..

When a lender originates a conforming mortgage loan ($417,000 or less), for the most part it is widely held in the secondary market, these loans have the greatest demand as they perform better. Bond traders and investors are willing to purchase large quantities of  Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage bonds in the conforming mortgage market because of that performance rating.

Bigger Loan= Bigger Risk

When a lender originates a conforming high balance mortgage, the pool of secondary market investors that lender has the ability to offload that loan to is smaller, even though the lender “hedged” by charging (a risk based fee built into the rate) a higher rate to the borrower.

Steps to score the best deal on a conforming high balance mortgage

  1. Find a mortgager lender for the loan limit sin your area
  2. Apply for the mortgage loan with a Fannie Mae Freddie Mac lender
  3. Get qualified with the lender upfront, this means authorizing the pulling of your credit report as well as providing supporting financial documentation
  4. Pay the $450 to order the home appraisal (or whatever your lender charges)
  5. Lock the interest rate on bond market rally day (typically happens when the stock market is selling off-your lender should know this)
  6. Consider paying discount points or small overhead to get the interest rate under 4% or wherever your target interest rate is
  7. If you have the cash, pay down the principal balance to the conforming loan limit (doing so saves tremendous amount of interest over term of loan)

*Mortgage Tip: whether you are buying a home or refinancing a mortgage the interest rate changes on conforming versus conforming high balance loans remains constant. Same applies to conventional versus government mortgages. Additionally, should your loan balance exceed conforming high balance limit in your area, you’ll be looking for a true jumbo mortgage wherein your best bet is working with a portfolio lender specializing in jumbo mortgages.

If you have a conventional mortgage or a conforming high balance mortgage, let us give you a complimentary mortgage rate quote and cost comparison so you can see which program makes the most sense for your unique situation. The bigger the mortgage, the higher the risk, the higher the rate.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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