Posted July 21, 2013

The Fannie Mae 97% Conventional Loan

The Conventional 97 LTV mortgage from Fannie Mae offers 3 % downpayment, simplified guidelines, and reduced mortgage insurance as compared to an FHA home loan.

The Conventional 97 LTV mortgage from Fannie Mae offers 3 % downpayment, simplified guidelines, and reduced mortgage insurance as compared to an FHA home loan.

Fannie Mae has discontinued the Conventional 97 program. It is no longer available. This post will remain active for archive purposes and remains accurate as of its publish date.

For today's home buyers, there's a large mix of low- and no-downpayment mortgages from which to choose.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer a basic 5% down mortgage. The FHA's main product requires just 3.5% down. And, via the VA and USDA, qualifying home buyers can buy with no downpayment at all.

There's an additional low-downpayment program, too, and it's known as the Conventional 97. Conventional 97 is a Fannie Mae-backed product which allows for a 3 percent downpayment, ultra-low mortgage insurance rates, and a 100% gift from blood or by-marriage relatives.

In addition, Conventional 97 mortgage rates are great.

Click here to get Conventional 97 mortgage rates.

Conventional 97 : Commonly Asked Questions

The Conventional 97 program is available to all U.S. homeowners via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It's a true, three-percent-downpayment mortgage program, for which the 3% downpayment may come as a gift. In many respects, it's more aggressive that the FHA's benchmark mortgage product in that guidelines are simpler and less-restrictive.

Here are some common answers to questions about the Conventional 97 mortgage.

Is the Conventional 97 a government-backed mortgage program?

Yes, the Conventional 97 mortgage program is backed by the government. It's offered via Fannie Mae only. The program is not available via Freddie Mac, nor is it available via the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

What is the minimum downpayment required with the Conventional 97 mortgage program?

The Conventional 97 program requires a 3 percent downpayment, at minimum. The 3 percent minimum is based on the lower of the home's appraised value or purchase price. 3 percent on a $200,000 home purchase is $6,000 for downpayment. By comparison, an FHA mortgage would require at least $7,000 down.

Is the Conventional 97 program "cheaper" than an FHA mortgage?

Yes, in many cases, the Conventional 97 program is less expensive than an FHA mortgage. This is because the Conventional 97 program does not require an upfront mortgage insurance premium, and because its annual mortgage insurance rates are cheaper, too. Mortgage rates are often comparable.

Can I use the Conventional 97 program for a mortgage refinance?

Yes, Fannie Mae allows homeowners to use the Conventional 97 program for rate-and-term refinances only. It may be used for a cash-out refinance. If you plan to use the Conventional 97 to refinance a mortgage pre-dating June 1, 2009, however, consider the HARP refinance first. HARP is a mortgage for underwater homeowners and may offer better loan terms, overall.

Click here to get Conventional 97 mortgage rates.

Are there property type restrictions for the Conventional 97 program?

Yes, the Conventional 97 program is property type-restricted. The program may only be used for single-family dwellings. This includes single-family detached homes, single-family attached homes, townhomes, condominiums, co-ops, and rowhomes.

Can I use the Conventional 97 for a 2-unit, 3-unit or 4-unit home?

No, the Conventional 97 program may only used for single-family dwellings.

What is the maximum loan size allowed with the Conventional 97?

The Conventional 97 mortgage program is capped at a $417,000 loan size. Loan sizes for more than $417,000 are not allowed, even in designated high-cost areas such as New York City, New York; Los Angeles, California; and Montgomery County, Maryland where the local conforming mortgage loan limit is $625,500.

What is the maximum purchase price for a home using the Conventional 97 program?

There is no maximum purchase price to use the Conventional 97 mortgage program, per se, but 3 percent down on $430,000 is equal to $417,000. Therefore, if you're seeking to minimize your out-of-pocket payments, purchase a home for $430,000 or less. 

Are there occupancy requirements for the Conventional 97 mortgage program?

Yes, the Conventional 97 mortgage program enforces occupancy requirements. The Conventional 97 is available for owner-occupied properties only. You may not use the program for second homes or vacation homes; or investment properties.

I have a renter in my former primary residence. Can I refinance that home using Conventional 97?

No, the Conventional 97 program is for owner-occupied properties only.

What is the combined loan-to-value (CLTV) limit for the Conventional 97 program?

The Conventional 97 is limited to a combined loan-to-value of 97%. You may not use subordinate financing (e.g.; home equity line of credit, home equity loan, "soft second") in conjunction with a Conventional 97 mortgage.

Click here to get Conventional 97 mortgage rates.

What income documentation does the Conventional 97 mortgage program require?

The documentation requirements for a Conventional 97 loan are the same as for any other Fannie Mae-backed mortgage. Mortgage applicants should expect to provide recent paystubs, W-2s and federal income tax returns; as well as bank statements and other relevant paperwork. There is no additional paperwork specifically related to the Conventional 97 program.

Does the Conventional 97 program require First-Time Home Buyer counseling?

No, the Conventional 97 program does not require home buyer counseling for First-Time Home Buyers, or anyone else.

What mortgage products are available via Conventional 97?

The Conventional 97 program allows for fixed-rate mortgages only. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) are not available.

Can I choose the 30-year fixed rate mortgage with the Conventional 97 program?

Yes, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is available to home buyers and refinancing households using Conventional 97. ARMs are not available.

Can I choose the 15-year fixed rate mortgage with the Conventional 97 program?

Yes, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate is available to home buyers and refinancing households using Conventional 97. ARMs are not available.

Is private mortgage insurance (PMI) required with the Conventional 97 mortgage program?

Yes, the Conventional 97 program requires that all borrowers carry mortgage insurance.

For how many years must I pay PMI via the Conventional 97 program?

The Conventional 97 program is via Fannie Mae, which means that PMI requirements follow Fannie Mae rules. Via the program, private mortgage insurance must only be paid until the home reaches 80% loan-to-value, and so long as 12 months have passed from the start of the loan.

Does Conventional 97 require upfront mortgage insurance, like an FHA loan?

No, the Conventional 97 program does not require upfront mortgage insurance premiums like an FHA loan. It only requires annual mortgage insurance, paid monthly, until such time as 12 months have passed and the home reaches 80% loan-to-value.

Does Conventional 97 require a funding fee, like an FHA loan?

No, the Conventional 97 program does not require a funding fee like a VA loan. It only requires an annual mortgage insurance premium, which is paid monthly. The annual mortgage insurance is no longer required after 12 months have passed and after the home has reached 80% loan-to-value.

Does the Conventional 97 program require minimum credit scores?

Yes, the Conventional 97 program requires a minimum credit score, which varies by downpayment source. All mortgage applicants must show a credit score of 680 or better. However, mortgage applicants accepting gift funds for a downpayment must show a credit score of at least 740. Your credit score is based on the middle of your three credit scores, as reported by the major credit bureaus TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

Click here to get Conventional 97 mortgage rates.

What is the Conventional 97 minimum FICO score if I am accepting a downpayment gift?

For home buyers accepting a gift of downpayment of any size -- even $100 -- the Conventional 97 program requires a credit score of 740 or higher.

What is the Conventional 97 minimum FICO score if I am not accepting a downpayment gift?

For home buyers making a downpayment from their own reserves/assets, the Conventional 97 program requires a credit score of 680 or better.

Can I use the Conventional 97 program if my credit score is below 680?

No, the Conventional 97 requires a credit score of at least 680. If your credit score is below 680, consider an FHA mortgage. The FHA allows for 3.5% downpayment and does not enforce a minimum credit score in many cases.

I am bringing 3% to my closing, but am also accepting a gift to help with closing costs. What is the minimum credit score requirement in this case?

For home buyers bringing at least 3% of their own funds to closing, the Conventional 97 minimum credit score requirement is 680, regardless of supplemental contributions made by parents or other family members.

Who does the Conventional 97 consider to be an acceptable "donor" for gift funds?

Conventional 97 restricts from whom a buyer can accept gift funds. Buyers can accept from a relative, which includes a spouse, child, or anyone else related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship. Gifts may also be accepted from a fiance/fiancee or a domestic partner.

Can I accept a gift of downpayment from my REALTOR® or the seller?

No, a REALTOR® may not provide the gift of downpayment, nor may any other interested party to the transaction. This includes the seller, the mortgage lender, and the title representative, among others.

Does the Conventional 97 program enforce a maximum Debt-to-Income (DTI)?

Yes, the Conventional 97 mortgage program enforces a maximum DTI, which varies by downpayment "source". Mortgage applicants making a downpayment from their own funds may not exceed 45% debt-to-income via the Conventional 97 program. Mortgage applicants accepting gift funds for a downpayment are limited to 41% DTI. Debt-to-income is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt obligations into your total verifiable monthly income.

How long does it take to close with Conventional 97 financing?

The Conventional 97 program takes no longer to underwrite than any other conventional mortgage. Approval times vary by lender, but are often quite quick.

When does the Conventional 97 program expire?

The Conventional 97 mortgage program does not "expire". It's not like the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which was created to spur housing and the economy. Fannie Mae's 3 percent downpayment program is indefinite.

My lender doesn't offer the Conventional 97 program. What do I do?

The Conventional 97 mortgage is a specialized program and is not available through via all mortgage lenders. If you've been turned down for the Conventional 97 mortgage by your primary lender, just apply again here. You'll likely find a different outcome.

How Do I Apply For The Conventional 97 program?

The Conventional 97 program is not a new program. However, it's a decidedly cheaper option as compared to the FHA. The Federal Housing Administration has raised its mortgage insurance rates so many times that its benchmark product has moved to second place.

If you're buying a home and plan to make a low downpayment; or refinancing one and have little home equity, look to the Conventional 97 program. It's fast, it's cheap, and the rates are great.

Get started with a free, no-obligation Conventional 97 online mortgage rate quote. View today's rates and see how much home you can afford. Because with lower downpayments and smaller PMI, your home-buying dollar should get you much, much more.

Click here to get Conventional 97 mortgage rates.

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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2014 Conforming & FHA Loan Limits

Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county,
as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, and the FHA.