Jumbo Mortgages Surge as Home Prices Rise

A percent sign on a block surrounded by stacks of coins, a calculator, and a pen

© jayk7 - Moment / Getty Images

Loan originations for jumbo residential mortgages are set to hit a level that has not been seen since the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of America researchers posted in a weekly report. Skyrocketing home prices are forcing home buyers to borrow more to afford the rising costs.

Mortgage loans that exceed conforming loan limits set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are estimated to reach $550 billion this year, Bank of America estimates. A large share of that has been held in bank portfolios, but more is being securitized or sold to investors as private mortgage-bond deals, MarketWatch reports.

More borrowers are needing financing above the conforming loan limit, which is currently about $548,000 on single-family residences in the majority of the U.S. It is near $820,000 on single-family residences in high-cost areas like New York and San Francisco.

Recently, several public mortgage lenders have said they would offer borrowers conforming loans of up to $625,000, MarketWatch reports.

Home prices have increased by nearly 20% compared to a year ago. Home buyers are stretching their budgets to try to afford the higher prices. The average amount for a mortgage averaged $410,000 the last week of September, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That marks the highest average mortgage amount since May.

Some on Wall Street are growing concerned about the boom in high-leverage mortgages. But investors remind that banks have been much more discerning than in past years on whom is eligible for these mortgages. Jumbo home loans nowadays tend to go to borrowers with prime credit scores. Also, regulators are requiring big banks to hold more capital against potential loan losses.