What is the minimum down payment on a conventional loan?

Young family staanding in frront of their new homeThe usual explanation for a conventional mortgage (also called a conforming mortgage) is a home loan that is not government insured or guaranteed. The FHA, Veteran, and USDA mortgages are all backed (insured) by the Federal government. The alphabet loans (FHA, VA & USDA) require a substantial upfront mortgage insurance premium and monthly mortgage insurance (mip). The conventional loan does not require any upfront mortgage insurance and does not require monthly mortgage insurance if the down payment is 20% or greater.

The conventional loan meets the guidelines of either the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) or the Federal National Mortgage Corporation (Fannie Mae). Think of the conventional mortgage as your father and grandfather's mortgage. The down payments are usually five, ten, 15 or 20 percent; or greater. A down payment of less than 20% requires private mortgage insurance.

Are conventional loan rates higher than FHA?

The conventional loan rates tend to be higher than FHA, VA and USDA mortgages because the conventional mortgages are not backed by the federal government. See today's interest rates

Are there conforming loan limits?

Each year Congress sets the conforming loan limits for one, two, three and four unit loans. The lending limits are used by the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Corporation. Loan amounts greater than the conforming loan limits are known as jumbo mortgages.

Can a conventional loan be owned by Fannie Mae?

Conventional loans "conform" to the underwriting guidelines (rules) of either Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Corporation) or Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). After the mortgage company or bank settles the loan, the lender often sells the mortgage to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, however, some lenders will retain the mortgage in their portfolio.

Can a down payment be gifted for a conventional loan?

Beginning on page 427 of the Fannie Mae selling manual, you will find the down payment gifting rules. For loans with a down payment of 20% or more, for the purchase of a 1 to 4 unit principal residence or a second home, all funds needed to complete the transaction can come from a gift, and no minimum borrower contribution from the borrower’s is required.

If the down payment is less than 20%, and the property is a 1 family principal residence, All funds can come from a gift. For 2 to 4 unit principal residence or second homes with a down payment greater than 20% (i.e.  5%, 10%, 15%), The borrower must make a 5% minimum borrower contribution from his or her own funds.

A gift can be provided by a family member, defined as the borrower’s child, spouse, or other dependent, or by another person who is related to the borrower by marriage, blood, adoption, or legal guardianship; or a fiancée, fiancé, or domestic partner. The donor of the gift may not be, or have any connection with, the developer, the builder, the real estate agent, or any other interested party to the transaction.

Gift money may pay for all or part of the down payment, closing costs, or cash reserves subject to the minimum borrower contribution, if applicable. Gifts are not allowed on an investment property.

Can closing costs be added to a conventional loan?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (conventional loans) do not allow borrowers to finance the closing costs in the mortgage. However, rather than making a lower offer on a house, simply ask the seller to pay a percentage of the closing costs.

Do conventional loans require a home inspection?

Conventional loans do not require a home inspection.

Do conventional loans require flood insurance?

On the requirements for flood insurance can be found on page 885 of the Fannie Mae mortgage manual. Here's what it says, in part:

Fannie Mae requires flood insurance for any property that has a residential building, dwelling, structure, or improvement situated in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that has federally mandated flood insurance purchase requirements, or is located in the Coastal Barrier Resources System or Otherwise Protected Area. (See Properties Located in the Coastal Barrier Resources System or in an Otherwise Protected Area below for further detail.) - Fannie Mae

Do conventional loans require 20% down payment?

The conventional home loans require a minimum of 3% down payment.


Effective 12/13/2014 qualified applicant(s) can obtain a mortgage with only 3% down. The applicant or in the case of multiple applicants (i.e. husband/wife, partner/partner), one applicant must be a first time home buyer. The Conventional 97 program may only be used for single-family dwellings. This includes single-family attached homes, single-family detached homes, townhomes, co-ops , condominiums, and row homes. The maximum loan size is limited to 453,100. No investors - owner occupied residences only. Adjustable interest rate loans are not permitted, fixed rate only. A higher credit score maybe required if the borrower(s) is receiving gift money for the down payment.

How long do you pay mortgage insurance on a conventional loan?

By Federal law, private mortgage insurance (pmi) must be removed by the lender when there is 22 percent equity in the home based on the original property value, provided that the monthly mortgage payments are current. You may request cancellation from the lender after there is 20 percent equity and the mortgage payments are current. There are certain exceptions.

What credit score do you need to qualify for a conventional home loan?

There is no hard credit score minimum with conventional loans, but the minimum credit score for a conventional mortgage with most lenders is 620. There are some lenders that will accept an applicant with a lower credit score.

What is a conforming loan?

A conforming loan refers to a conventional loan that meets the lending guidelines of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These quasi-government agencies have lending limits. The term conforming loan means that the loan is at or less than the lending limits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (they both have the same limits). In short, the loan "conforms" to the guidelines and loan limits of these two companies.

2018 Conforming Loan Limits

Common Lending Limits For Most US Counties - there are some county exceptions.
Loans above the following limits are called jumbo loans

  • 1-unit home - $453,100
  • 2-units (duplex) - $580,150
  • 3-units - $701,250
  • 4-units - $871,450