Definition of "Conforming Mortgage"

A loan eligible for purchase by the two major federal agencies that buy mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conforming mortgages cannot exceed a legal maximum amount, which was $322,700 in 2003; it is raised every year. They must also meet the agencies' underwriting requirements regarding credit, documentation, property features, and other factors. A mortgage in excess of the conforming maximum, which is identical in other respects, will have an interest rate about 3/8% higher. Borrowers who need an amount larger than the maximum will often do better taking a conforming loan for the maximum and a second mortgage for the excess.

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