The limit on the size of a mortgage which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will purchase and/or guarantee. The conforming loan limit is set annually by Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator, The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). OFHEO uses the October to October percentage increase/decrease in the average house price in the monthly interest rate survey of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) to adjust the conforming loan limits for the subsequent year.
Mortgages which exceed the conforming loan limit are known as jumbo mortgages. The interest rate on jumbo mortgages can be higher than the interest rate on conforming mortgages. A borrower whose mortgage amount slightly exceeds the conforming loan limit should analyze the economics of reducing their loan size through a larger downpayment or possibly using secondary financing to qualify for a conforming mortgage verses a jumbo mortgage.