So, if you are in the market for a jumbo loan, here are the new rules:
• A down payment, or, if refinancing, equity, of (usually):
• At least 20% down for jumbos up to $1 million
• At least 30% down up to $2 million
• More for loans over $2 million
• An excellent credit score (at least 720 but could be more as some banks report that their average jumbo customer has a credit score in the 760s)
• Income documentation and verification. Borrowers are now required to provide financial records verifying that they earn what they say they earn (some borrowers have been asked to provide two years of their income history).
• Expect to obtain an adjustable-rate loan; fixed-rate jumbos are relatively rare.
• DTI (Debt-to-Income) of less than 38 percent. That means a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment must be less than 38 percent of their income before taxes. The ability to afford to make monthly payments is critical in the jumbo loan market.
Be prepared to shop around. Depending on what part of the country you are in, lenders can have different jumbo loan lending guidelines. Guidelines may also vary depending on the type of dwelling (condo vs. house), whether it is a primary home or investment property (some lenders will only approve jumbo loans for primary residences; others will grant jumbo loans for vacation homes or investment properties).
Jumbo loans are not commodities. Today, most jumbo loans come from the big banks that are keeping loans on their books instead of selling them. Falling property values are still a concern, but with jumbo loans requiring a lower loan-to-value ratio
, even if housing prices dropped sharply, the risk to the bank is low.
Since interest rates on deposits are currently low, the bank makes money by charging higher interest rates on mortgages than they pay on their customers’ deposits, thereby profiting on jumbo mortgages, even when the mortgage is offered at a low rate. However, keep in mind that rates paid on deposits will someday rise again. Banks are promoting jumbo ARMs
whose rates will rise when rates paid on deposits go up. The most popular jumbos are 5/1 ARMs, which have an introductory rate that lasts five years; then adjust annually thereafter.
Income requirements are high
of jumbo mortgages take a risk. If a jumbo mortgage loan defaults, it can be hard to sell the property quickly for a good price. Luxury properties are generally more subject to the vagaries of the marketplace than are ordinary properties. Therefore, borrowers taking a jumbo mortgage must prove their financial responsibility and reliability
Having a high income
demonstrates an ability to support mortgage payments. In order to qualify for a jumbo mortgage, you will have to have a low debt-to-income ratio
that allows you comfortably to pay the principal, interest, taxes and insurance each month. As a rule, your monthly mortgage payment on a jumbo loan should not exceed 38 percent of your pre-tax income.
Be prepared to present proof of your income. Jumbo borrowers typically have to fully document two years of income history. Show your shining credit score A good credit score is essential to qualify for a jumbo mortgage. Required scores vary according to lender, but expect to need a score of at least 720. Be aware that lenders will look at credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, so any history of missed payments is sure to impact. Down payment requirements are demanding Again, due to the risk the lender takes, down payment requirements for jumbo loans are strict. It is rare to find a lender who will accept less than 20 percent of the home cost as a down payment. Many lenders expect at least 30 percent, especially for very expensive properties.
Not all properties qualify Although each lender is different, many will not offer jumbo loans on vacation homes and investment properties. Refinancing a jumbo loan can be problematic in a weak economy. If house prices fall, borrowers of jumbo loans might suddenly find that they do not have 20 percent equity in their homes. Thus, they do not qualify to refinance.