A conventional loan is a type of mortgage that is not part of a specific government program, such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) loan programs.
However, conventional loans are commonly interchangeable with “conforming loans”, since they are required to conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s underwriting requirements and loan limits.
There are two primary categories of conventional mortgages:
Conforming: A conforming mortgage follows the guidelines put in place by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, including loan limits.
Non-conforming: These mortgages include both “jumbo loans” which exceed the loan limits imposed by government-backed agencies, niche products for unusual circumstances and riskier products that are much less common these days.