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What is a Jumbo Loan in California? [2023 Loan Limits by County]

what is a jumbo loan in california
what is a jumbo loan in california
Brian Reese
August 8, 2023

Have you ever heard of jumbo loans and scratched your head, thinking what could be so ‘jumbo’ about a loan? Well, my friend, you’re not alone. Often tossed around in financial circles, the term “jumbo loan” can seem pretty daunting, especially if you’re not entirely sure what it means. But don’t worry – that’s what I’m here for! Let’s peel back the layers of this seemingly complex financial product, and why it’s something of an anomaly right here in California.

Picture this – you’re dreaming of buying a home, a gorgeous one, in the sunny state of California. You’ve found the perfect house, it checks all the boxes, but there’s a catch. Due to the skyrocketing prices of properties, especially in prime neighborhoods, conventional loans are often insufficient. Now, this is where a jumbo loan might come in handy.

In these circumstances, jumbo loans in California become more than just a heavy-sounding term. They become a practical tool, crucial for those who find themselves in the predicament I’ve just described. But hey, don’t take my word for it, let’s peel back the layers and dive deeper into understanding the scope and limits of these loans, bringing some clarity to your quest for the perfect home in the Golden State. So, sit tight and get ready, because we’re about to embark on a jumbo journey.

Why Does California Stand Out in the Jumbo Loan Market?

What is a jumbo loan in California? Discover its requirements, limits, and the mortgage trends. Find out why its frequency is significant in the state.

When it comes to the housing market, California often takes the spotlight, earning a reputation for its soaring home prices. The golden state’s real estate scene is a unique blend of aesthetic coastal properties, urban architectural delights, and spacious suburban homes. However, this real estate diversity comes with a common feature – high prices. This high price ecosystem makes jumbo loans a prevalent and often indispensable financial tool for many potential homeowners. But, what is a jumbo loan in California? A jumbo loan is a type of mortgage that surpasses the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

A Brief Look at California’s Real Estate Scene:

California’s dynamic real estate market is known for its steep prices, which vary across different regions. For instance, Silicon Valley’s tech hub nurtures an average home price close to $1 million. In contrast, housing in inland cities like Fresno is relatively more affordable, yet still higher than national averages. This price disparity necessitates different loan structures, with many buyers resorting to jumbo loans in California.

Here’s a sneak peek into California’s diverse housing market and the corresponding average home prices:

RegionAverage Home Price
Silicon Valley~$1,000,000
Los Angeles~$800,000
San Diego~$700,000

This table clearly underlines why jumbo loans have become a palpable part of California’s housing market narrative.

The Role of California’s Cost of Living in Jumbo Loans:

The high cost of living in California further bolsters the prevalence of jumbo loans. As the cost of daily essentials is significantly high, so too are the property prices. The median home price in California is more than double the national average. For many, a conventional loan is insufficient to cover the cost of a home in California. This is where a jumbo loan in California comes into play.

A California jumbo loan can make homeownership in the golden state more achievable. It caters to those willing to invest in high-priced properties that exceed the conforming loan limit. Hence, despite the higher interest rates and stricter approval criteria, Californians often gravitate towards jumbo loans. After all, these loans can be the key to unlocking the door to owning a slice of Californian paradise.

Now that we have unveiled the role of jumbo loans in California, let’s delve into the current jumbo loan limits prevalent in the state. As these limits often change from year to year, we will focus on the 2023 limits as a snapshot of this ever-evolving landscape.

What Are the Current Jumbo Loan Limits in California?

The current 2023 jumbo loan limit in California is $726,200 for single-family homes in most counties. However, in certain high-cost areas, the limit can rise to as much as $1,089,300.

These loan limits are determined annually by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), based on changes in average U.S. home prices. The organization reviews annually and adjusts the baseline limit for mortgage loans across the nation. The last review was made by FHFA in 2023, you can view it HERE.

The Difference in Jumbo Loan Limits Across Counties:

Interestingly, the jumbo loan limit in California does not hold uniformity across the state. Each county has a conforming county loan limit – meaning you’ll witness different maximum amounts based on the county you’re shopping in. In counties like San Francisco and other high-cost areas, the limit rises, allowing borrowers to secure larger home loans before stepping into jumbo mortgage territory.

For instance, in San Diego, the 2023 jumbo loan limit is $977,500 for a single unit and $1,251,400 for two units. However, in Alameda, it’s $1,089,300 for a single unit and $1,394,775 for two units.

The consequence of this variation is that conditions to qualify for a jumbo loan might vary in California. If your borrowing amount surpasses your respective county’s limit, you are now taking a jumbo loan, meaning you may need to meet higher credit score requirements and low debt-to-income ratios.

In the whirlwind of house hunting, understanding your county’s specific conforming county loan limits can be a gamechanger. This microscopic and macroscopic view of jumbo loan limits in California is quintessential for aspiring homeowners.

Now, let’s transition into understanding how a jumbo loan impacts homebuyers in California. What are the potential benefits and pitfalls? Read on.

What are the 2023 California County Conforming Loan Limits?

CountySingle UnitTwo Units
Contra Costa$1,089,300$1,394,775
Del Norte$726,200$929,850
El Dorado$763,600$977,550
Los Angeles$1,089,300$1,394,775
San Benito$1,089,300$1,394,775
San Bernardino$726,200$929,850
San Diego$977,500$1,251,400
San Francisco$1,089,300$1,394,775
San Joaquin$726,200$929,850
San Luis Obispo$911,950$1,167,450
San Mateo$1,089,300$1,394,775
Santa Barbara$805,000$1,030,550
Santa Clara$1,089,300$1,394,775
Santa Cruz$1,089,300$1,394,775

What Impact Does A Jumbo Loan Have On Home Buyers?

Navigating the real estate market can be tricky and never more so than when figuring out how a jumbo loan might affect you as a homebuyer. The golden California real estate market is not excluded from this phenomenon as it leads in many areas of this sector. If you’re a homebuyer in sunny California and you’re considering a jumbo loan, it’s essential to understand the potential benefits and complications.

Impact on Interest Rates and Monthly Payments:

One of the salient implications of taking a jumbo loan is its potential effect on interest rates and consequently, monthly payments. Because jumbo loans exceed the conforming loan limits, they can carry higher interest rates, translating to heftier monthly repayments. However, this isn’t a rule set in stone because sometimes jumbo loan rates can be competitive with, or even lower than, conforming loan rates.

Here are some pros and cons of jumbo loans:


  • Opens the door to high-cost markets. With a jumbo loan, you can join the coveted ranks of homeowners in some of California’s most upscale neighborhoods.
  • Potentially lower rates. As mentioned before, there are scenarios where interest rates could be lower than traditional loans.
  • Large borrowing amounts. You can borrow a substantial sum, mitigating the burden of fronting a massive down payment.


  • Higher payments. Higher loan value could mean higher monthly payments.
  • More stringent requirements. Jumbo loans usually have more strict credit and income standards, and you might need a higher credit score to qualify.
  • Greater risk. Due to the size of the loan, you might be left with a larger financial responsibility if the value of the home decreases.

It’s evident that while jumbo loans can pack a punch, they also come with risks worth considering.

Here’s a table showcasing the differences between a jumbo loan and a conventional loan:

WhatJumbo LoanConventional Loan
Loan LimitAbove $726,200Up to $726,200
Interest RatePotentially HigherTypically Lower
Down PaymentLower Down Payment PossibleTypically 20% of Property Value
Risk LevelHighLow to Moderate

To learn more about California’s housing market and jumbo loans, you can visit California Association of Realtors for more comprehensive information.

As the real estate market evolves, so might your needs. That’s why it’s important to carefully research your financing options. So, where and how can you secure a jumbo loan in California? In the next section, we’ll explore this notion further and provide more insights.

Conclusion and Wrap-Up

When it comes to home loans, we all look for the best alternatives that fit our financial needs. But what happens when our dreams exceed the standard loan limits? That’s when jumbo loans in California come into play. Jumbo loans are not the scary beasts they are often imagined to be but are merely home loans that surpass the norm.

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand the basics. A jumbo loan is a conventional mortgage, meaning it is not insured by the government. However, this type of loan outstrips the conforming county loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Why does that matter? These larger-than-standard loans are not eligible for purchase by government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which deal with bundled mortgage loans.

So you might wonder, what is a jumbo loan in California precisely? It depends on the county’s set loan limits, and these limits aren’t identical across the state.

However, there’s good news for potential homeowners in 2023. The FHFA has increased the conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Most Californians seeking loans for single-family residences can now borrow up to $726,200, representing a $79,000 increase from $647,200 in 2022. Homebuyers eyeing a duplex residence are subject to a $929,850 loan limit, an increase of $101,150 from $828,700.

However, the nature of jumbo loans implies that lenders take on more risk. Consequently, prospective borrowers must meet more stringent requirements than those for conventional loans. Mostly, applicants need a high credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, and a substantial down payment.

Therefore, if you’re contemplating to step into the housing market with a jumbo loan under your belt, it’s essential to carefully weigh your financial situation. Preparation is key. Ensure you have a robust credit history, and shop around to find a loan that best suits your situation.


YearSingle-family residence loan limitIncrease from previous yearDuplex residence loan limitIncrease from previous year
2023$726,200$79,000$929,850 up to $101,150

In conclusion, acquiring a home in sunny California might seem daunting, but with the increased jumbo loan limits in 2023, owning your dream home is within reach. However, bear in mind that financial decisions require sufficient planning and careful pondering. So, do your homework, consult with trusted advisors, and embark on this exciting journey with confidence. Happy house hunting in 2023!

What is a Jumbo Loan in California: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is a jumbo loan in California?

A1: A jumbo loan in California is a mortgage that exceeds the conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). These are loans that cannot be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac because they are larger than the maximum these entities are permitted to back.

Q2: What are the conforming loan limits in California?

A2: Conforming loan limits can vary from one county to another within California. As of 2023, the jumbo loan limit in California are $726,200 for single-family homes in most counties. However, in certain high-cost areas, the limit can rise to as much as $1,089,300. The two unit jumbo loan limit is $1,394,775.

Q3: Why would someone need a jumbo loan in California?

A3: Due to the high housing prices in parts of California, a jumbo loan may be necessary for buyers who want to purchase a home or property that exceeds the conventional loan limit.

Q4: What are the requirements for acquiring a jumbo loan in California?

A4: Requirements may vary from lender to lender, but generally, potential borrowers should have a high credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio, substantial reserves, and a large down payment, often 20% or more.

Q5: Does a jumbo loan have a higher interest rate?

A5: In some cases, jumbo loans may come with higher interest rates than conforming loans because they are considered riskier for lenders since they are not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. However, this is not always the case, and rates may vary depending upon market conditions and the borrower’s credit profile.

Q6: How can I apply for a jumbo loan in California?

A6: The process of applying for a jumbo loan is similar to that of a conforming loan. You would need to get in touch with a mortgage lender, provide your financial information, and go through the loan approval process.

Q7: Can I get a jumbo loan with less than 20% down in California?

A7: Yes, while many lenders typically require 20% down for jumbo loans, some lenders do offer jumbo loans with lower down payment requirements. However, taking a jumbo loan with less than 20% down might require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

Q8: Is it harder to qualify for a jumbo loan?

A8: Since jumbo loans involve higher amounts of money, lenders often have stricter qualifying criteria. This could mean a higher credit score, lower debt-to-income ratios, and more extensive documentation requirements.

Q9: Can I use a jumbo loan for an investment property or second home in California?

A9: Yes, while guidelines and availability may vary by lender, it is generally possible to use a jumbo loan for an investment property or second home.

Q10: Can I refinance a jumbo loan in California?

A10: Yes, if you currently have a jumbo loan, you can refinance it, subject to eligibility requirements. People often refinance to secure a lower interest rate or to change their loan terms.

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Josh Rapaport District Lending
Josh Rapaport – Founder & CEO @ District Lending

After working in the mortgage industry for 20 years, I started District Lending to deliver consumers lower rates and to arm them with the power to make confident financial decisions. That’s also why I’m keen on making the buying and refinancing experience as seamless and stress-free as possible. I value honesty, so I gladly share my rates with consumers right on the website. Our service is transparent, and we prioritize looking out for the client’s best interest.”

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Brian Reese United States Air Force
Brian Reese – United States Air Force

“As a military veteran, I’ve made it my life’s mission to help people live happier and wealthier lives. District Lending brings this mission to life. We believe in integrity, honesty, and transparency, which is why you’ll see our rates right on our website. You’ll find lower rates and zero lending fees, which means you can buy your dream home for less. The savings are passed on to you — the way it should be.”

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About the Author

Brian Reese Entrepreneur

Brian Reese is a senior advisor and co-owner at District Lending. He is one of the world’s leading experts in veteran benefits, having helped millions of veterans secure their financial future since 2013. Brian is the founder VA Claims Insider, an education-based Coaching & Consulting company whose mission is to educate and empower veterans to get the VA disability benefits they’ve earned for their honorable service. A former active-duty air force officer, Brian deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a distinguished graduate of management of the United States Air Force Academy and earned his MBA as a National Honor Scholar from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.

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