3 Things You Should Know About Washington State Jumbo Loans

Published:
January 25, 2016
Last updated:
November 30, 2022
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If you are thinking of applying for a mortgage in Washington State, the loan amount you take out matters a great deal relative to the price of the home you intend to buy. If your loan amount is higher than a certain amount, you may have to take out a jumbo loan. But what is this type of loan? This article will explain.

The real estate market is filled with variables that change from month to month, or at times from day to day. Securing a mortgage loan in this climate can be intimidating where smart buyers must constantly adjust to shifting trends in the housing market to get the right loan for their situation.

A common question we get at Sammamish Mortgage is whether a borrower should pursue conforming financing or consider other mortgage loan options like a jumbo loan or balloon loan.

The following tips will help you learn exactly what a jumbo loan is and if it’s the right type of mortgage loan for you.

1) What is a Jumbo Loan?

In Washington State, jumbo loans are determined by the size of the loan. Any loan amount greater than the conforming loan limit as authorized by Congress and signed into law by the White House is considered a jumbo loan. The official 2023 standard conforming first mortgage loan size limits by property type for most counties in WA state are: (Updated for 2023).

  • 1-unit properties : $726,200
  • 2-unit properties : $929,850
  • 3-unit properties : $1,123,900
  • 4-unit properties : $1,396,800

The exception to these limits in Washington State are the High Balance Conforming or Conforming Jumbo limits in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties that allow loan amounts up to $977,500 for 1-unit properties.

Since the loan amount on jumbo loans is above the conforming loan limit, these are loans that are not guaranteed by government secured agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In light of this, jumbo loans are riskier to lenders and with that risk, comes a stricter set of underwriting criteria.

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2) What Are The Qualifications For A Jumbo Loan in Washington?

Prior to the housing bubble, lenders saw jumbo loans as an opportunity to compete for new business in the booming real estate market. From 2003-2007, jumbo loans were readily secured without income verification and as little as 5% down.

Needless to say, this reckless lending left several homeowners in distress with mortgages that exceeded their capacity to repay the lenders. A jumbo loan today involves stricter underwriting and those hoping to qualify for a jumbo loan in Washington State should expect to:

  • Document your income.
  • Put down at least 20 percent of the purchase price (or more on properties valued above $1,000,000).
  • Maintain a debt to income ratio where your monthly debt obligations stay below 43% of your monthly income. (As low as 36% on some programs).
  • Have a credit score over 700 in most cases.

The most popular jumbo loan is a 30-year fixed; however, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages), which have retained their introductory rate for the first 5, 7 or 10 years of the loan term are increasingly available as well.  After the fixed rate period on an ARM, the mortgage rate is adjusted annually (usually in relation to the 1-year LIBOR).

3) Is Now A Good Time To Pursue A Jumbo Loan?

If you qualify for a Washington jumbo loan, the real estate market is favorable right now. At the height of the housing crisis, lenders were scarred by the inability of borrowers to make good on jumbo loans and reacted by raising rates as much as 2 or 3% over conventional financing options.

Since that time, the market for jumbo loans has recovered and the “old way of doing things” is again the norm. Lenders have responded with rates today that are as little as .125 to .5% higher than rates on conventional loans with excellent credit. This means it’s a great time to look for the home of your dreams if you’re a borrower who qualifies for a jumbo loan in Washington State.

Check out our mortgage loan limit tool for conventional, FHA, and VA loans, as well as the 2023 conventional loan limits for Washington State.

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Need a Mortgage?

Need a mortgage? At Sammamish Mortgage, we offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and tools with flexible qualification criteria, including our Diamond Homebuyer ProgramCash Buyer Program, and Bridge Loans. We have been serving the entire state since 1992, as well as the broader Pacific Northwest region that includes Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Idaho. Please contact us today with any financing-related questions you have.

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