This website provides 2021 conforming loan limits by county, as well as FHA limits. In 2021, the baseline loan limit for most counties across the U.S. will be $548,250, an increase from the 2020 cap of $510,400.
More expensive markets, such as New York City and San Francisco, have conforming loan limits as high as $822,375. Anything above these maximum amounts would be considered a “jumbo” mortgage.
The PDF and Excel spreadsheet files above were obtained from FHFA.gov. They are offered here as a convenience to our visitors. You can download them to your computer, in either format, and refer to them as needed.
Conforming Loan Limits Increased for 2021
On November 24, 2020, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it would raise the baseline conforming loan limit for 2021, for nearly all counties across the country.
They are also increasing the limits for certain “higher-cost areas” that fall above the baseline. This is in response to the signifiant (and surprising) home-price gains that occurred during 2020. Despite the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn, home values in most U.S. cities continue to climb in 2020.
In most counties across the country, the 2021 maximum conforming loan limit for a single-family home will be $548,250. That’s an increase of $37,850 from the 2020 baseline limit of $510,400.
This marks the fifth year in a row that federal housing officials have raised the baseline, in order to keep up with rising home values.
But again, this is just the baseline conforming loan limit used for most parts of the country. In higher-cost real estate markets, like San Francisco and New York City, the limit for a single-family home loan can be as high as $822,375. And there’s a broad spectrum in between those “floor” and “ceiling” amounts.
Anything above these caps is considered a jumbo mortgage.
What Is a Conforming Loan?
A conforming home loan is one that meets, or “conforms” to, certain guidelines set forth by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Freddie and Fannie are the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that purchase mortgages, bundle and securitize them, and then sell them to investors through Wall Street and other channels.
When a loan meets the purchasing criteria used by the GSEs, it is said to be a conforming loan.
There are various criteria used to define a “conforming” mortgage product. But the size of the loan is one of the most important criteria, from a borrower’s perspective.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will only purchase loans up to a certain amount. These maximum amounts, or limits, vary by county and are updated every year.
‘Jumbo’ Mortgages Are Still Widely Available
Borrowers who wish to obtain a mortgage loan for an amount that exceeds the 2021 conforming limits for their county still have options. When a home loan exceeds the caps set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it is referred to as a “jumbo” mortgage product, and it cannot be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Jumbo loans are still widely available in the U.S., but the qualification criteria are generally stricter for these products due to the higher level of risk involved.
Jumbo mortgage products do not meet the underwriting guidelines set forth by FHFA, so they are not eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As a result, eligibility requirements are often more stringent with these larger “non-conforming” loans. Lenders often require higher income, better credit, and larger down payments for jumbo loans. Just know that the specific criteria vary from one lender to the next.
To find the 2021 conforming loan limits for your county, just download the PDF document or Excel spreadsheet above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Loan limits tend to create confusion among home buyers, mortgage shoppers, and sometimes even lenders. That’s the reason why we created this website. Along those lines, here are straight answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about conforming loan limits.
What are conforming loan limits, exactly?
These limits represent the maximum size (dollar amount) for mortgage loans that can be acquired by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
If a lender wants to sell its home loans to either of these organizations via the “secondary mortgage market,” then they need to ensure they meet all of the requirements used by Fannie and Freddie. In other words, they must “conform” to those standards — hence the term.
How are they determined?
The methodology for creating these limits is outlined within the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, or HERA. This act requires the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to establish and maintain an index for tracking average home prices in counties across the country. In short, HERA ties loan limits to median home values.
In most cases, the conforming loan limit for a particular county is set at 115% of the median home value for the area. It cannot, however, be more than 50% above the baseline mentioned at the top of this page.
Is a “conforming” loan the same thing as “conventional”?
The terms conforming and conventional are sometimes used interchangeably. But these two adjectives mean different things, and sometimes they overlap. A “conventional” mortgage loan is one that does not receive any kind of government insurance, guarantee or backing. This distinguishes them from the government-backed home loan programs like FHA, VA and USDA.
A “conforming” loan is simply a conventional mortgage product that meets or conforms to the size limits and other criteria used by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the huge corporations that buy loans from lenders). Learn more about the distinction between conventional and conforming.
Do these caps change over time?
Yes, these limits are often changed (usually increased) from one year to the next. In the previous FAQ we explained that conforming loan limits are based on median and average home prices within a particular county, and also nationwide.
Home values can change over time. When they rise significantly from one year to the next, housing officials usually increase the conforming loan limits to “keep up” with home-price appreciation.
But such changes only occur once per year, starting on January 1st. After that, they remain the same throughout the calendar year.
Can I borrow more than the limit for my county?
Yes, but only if you have the income to support it. When a person borrows an amount that exceeds the conforming limit for the county where the home is located, it’s known as a “jumbo” loan. Mortgage lenders often have stricter criteria for such borrowers, since there is more money being loaned out and therefore a higher risk.
Borrowers seeking a jumbo loan typically need to have better credit and larger down payments, compared to those who are applying for a smaller conforming mortgage.
View more conforming loan limit FAQs (PDF).