Types of Home Loans

The type of loan you decide upon is one of the most important decisions you will make in purchasing your home. You should pay careful attention to the particulars of each loan type. If you have any question about a loan you're considering, you shouldn't hesitate to ask your lender.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
In 1938 the US government created The National Mortgage Association, more commonly known as Fannie Mae, and later in 1970 created the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, more commonly known as Freddie Mac. The purpose of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is to buy mortgages from lenders and sell them to investors; this allows lenders to make more loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both have certain guidelines about what kinds of loans they will buy from lenders. If a loan does not follow these guidelines then a lender will charge you more interest, and may require a larger down payment since it will be harder for them to sell the mortgage.

Jumbo vs Conforming
A conforming loan is one that conforms to the guidelines laid out by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A loan that does not follow the guidelines is known as a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans are significantly more expensive than conforming loans. The main guideline in judging if the loan is considered a jumbo loan is the loan amount. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac assign a maximum loan limit, beyond which the loan is considered jumbo. The maximum loan limits for the continental U.S. as of 2008 is shown below, note that the loan limits will likely be higher for Alaska, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands.

Conforming Loan Amounts for Continental U.S. (2008)
Number of Units
Conforming Limit

If your borrowing amount is over the conforming limits then you can increase your down payment, just enough so that the loan amount falls within the conforming bracket. However, if you do decide to take out a jumbo loan, expect that the interest will usually be at least 3/8 to 1/2 a percentage point higher than a conforming loan.

Types of Loans
A fixed rate mortgage maintains a consistent interest rate throughout the lifetime of the loan. Once you obtain the loan from the lender, the interest rate, and your monthly payment won't change. In contrast to a fixed rate mortgage, you can also have an adjustable rate mortgage. An adjustable rate mortgage's interest rate changes over the life of the loan, based on how interest rates are doing in the general economy. Since the interest rate of an adjustable rate mortgage changes, so will your monthly payment, so there is some amount of risk involved. However adjustable rate mortgages can save you money in a time of low interest rates. Another classification of loans are hybrid home loans. As its name suggests, they are a combination of a fixed rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage. A hybrid loans have a time period that it is fixed rate mortgage, and then switches to an adjustable rate mortgage.

In addition to the most common fixed rate and adjustable rate loans, there are additional types of financing as well. Among these is the 80-10-10 mortgage loan , which could allow you to save on having to pay private mortgage insurance. Another type of loan is a home equity loan , which can be useful, if you have paid off part of the loan and want to access the equity in your home. Individuals with above average credit may qualify for a 125 percent home equity loan. This type of loan will allow you to borrow 125 percent the value of your home. If you plan on refinancing your home or selling it in the near future, you can consider getting a balloon home loan.

The decision on the type of loan is an important one. Loan terms are generally 15-30 years so it is critical to make sure you haven't overlooked anything. Some types of loans especially those which are less common have pitfalls that can hurt you if you're not prepared. Although it is important to choose your loan carefully, if you find yourself with a bad costly loan, then it may be possible to refinance and get a more favorable loan.

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