Portland Mortgage Programs Every Buyer Should Know About

May 17, 2017
Last updated:
November 30, 2023
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You have a lot of mortgage programs to choose from when buying a home in Portland, Oregon. In fact, first-time home buyers are often left feeling confused and overwhelmed by the different mortgage choices that are available. So let’s simplify things a bit.

Mortgages are not meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Every buyer has his or her own financial situation, which is why there are various loan programs out there. Here are the three main types of Portland mortgage programs and products you can choose from. The vast majority of home loans (more than 90%) fall into one of these three categories.

Overview of Portland Mortgage Programs

Conventional home loans

This is the most commonly used type of mortgage in Portland. A conventional home loan is one that is not guaranteed or insured by the federal government. It is generated (and sometimes insured) solely within the private sector. This separates it from the two other Portland mortgage programs listed below, which do have some kind of government backing.

Conventional loans are available with fixed and adjustable rates, as well as different lengths or “terms.” Most people choose either a 15- or 30-year term. A 15-year term is shorter in duration, which means borrowers can pay off their mortgages sooner and save a lot of money on interest paid. But the mortgage payments will also be much higher. A longer-term mortgage like a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage offers much lower monthly payments, but more money will be paid out in interest over the life of the loan.

Down payments generally range from 3% – 20%.

FHA loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loan program is one example of a government-insured mortgage program. With this financing method, the loan is insured by the FHA. But the money still comes from a bank or Portland mortgage lender in the private sector, just like with a conventional home loan. It is the government backing that makes the program unique. FHA loans offer down payments as low as 3.5% with flexible qualification criteria.

VA loans

This is another Portland mortgage program with government backing. This time, it’s the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that guarantees the loan. This program is limited to military service members and veterans, and their spouses in some case. The best feature of this mortgage program is that it allows for 100% financing. That means eligible borrowers can buy a home in Oregon with no money down.

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Jumbo vs. Conforming Loans

When researching mortgage loan programs in Portland, you’ll likely encounter the terms “conforming” and “jumbo.” These terms relate to the size of the loan, in relation to pre-established guidelines used by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Here’s the difference:

A conforming loan is basically a conventional home loan (defined above) that meets or “conforms” to the size limits used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because it meets their criteria, a conforming loan can be sold to Fannie or Freddie — and then sold again to investors. The conforming size limit for a single-family home in Portland, Oregon is $766,550. That limit will remain in place throughout 2024.

A jumbo loan is one that exceeds the conforming limit mentioned above. It is therefore considered non-conforming, and cannot be sold to the government-sponsored enterprises (or GSEs). The qualification criteria can be a bit more strict for jumbo mortgage products in Portland, since it’s a larger loan that brings more risk. As for their size, jumbo mortgages can exceed $1 million in some cases.

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Have Questions About Home Loan Programs in Portland?

There are a number of mortgage programs that you can choose from based on your financial situation, and Sammamish Mortgage can provide you with the ideal loan program for you. We are a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington and serve the entire state, as well as Oregon, Colorado, and Idaho since 1992. We offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and tools with flexible qualification criteria, including our Diamond Homebuyer ProgramCash Buyer Program, and Bridge Loans. Please contact us today with any financing-related questions you have.

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