What is a Conventional Loan?
The dominant number of loans made in the conventional market use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines for conforming loans. Conventional loans are "conforming" if they are generally $417,000 or less for a single-family home.
There are also established guidelines for borrower credit scores, income requirements and minimum down payments. For example, most conventional loans require somewhere between 3 percent and 20 percent down. Conventional loans can be conforming or nonconforming. Loans above the lending limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are called nonconforming or jumbo loans.
Most conventional mortgages have either fixed or adjustable interest rates. Typical fixed interest rate loans have a term of 15 or 30 years. A shorter-term loan usually results in a lower interest rate. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, fluctuate in relation to the rate of a standard financial index, such as the LIBOR. Monthly payments can go up or down accordingly.