California Jumbo Loan Limits for 2020

January 8, 2019 | By Brandon Cornett | © 2020, QualifiedMortgage.org

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January of 2019. It was updated in 2020 to account for changes made by federal housing officials. This page is now fully updated and includes the 2020 conforming / jumbo loans limits for all California counties.

Conforming and jumbo loan limits in California were increased for 2020 in response to rising home prices. In many counties across the state, the new jumbo loan threshold for 2020 is set at $510,400 for a single-family home. Higher-priced real estate markets, like San Francisco and Orange County, have jumbo loan limits of $765,600.

Understanding ‘Jumbo’ Loans in California

A California “jumbo loan” is one that exceeds the maximum “conforming” size limit for a particular county. Basically, this means it’s too big to be sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. So it earns a “jumbo” label.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the two government-sponsored enterprises (or GSEs) that purchase mortgage loans from lenders, and then turn around and sell them to investors through the secondary mortgage market.

Federal housing agencies limit the maximum size for mortgage loans that can be sold to Fannie and Freddie. And those restrictions are precisely what distinguish a California conforming loan from a jumbo.

  • Anything that falls within this range is called a “conforming” loan, because it conforms to the size restrictions set by the government. It can therefore be sold to Fannie and Freddie.
  • Anything above the limit is considered a “jumbo” loan and is not eligible for GSE purchase. Lenders often have stricter criteria for these loans, due to the larger amount being borrowed (and other factors).

So, technically speaking, there’s isn’t a jumbo loan limit for California. There’s a conforming limit for conventional home loans issued within the state, and it varies by county (see table below). But there is no industry-wide maximum limit for jumbo mortgage products. Some lenders might offer jumbo products up to $1 million, $2 million, or even $5 million. It varies.

Conforming Limits for California Counties in 2020

The current single-family conforming loan limit for most housing markets across the state is $510,400. In higher-priced markets, like Los Angeles and Orange County, the conforming loan limit is set at $765,600.

The table below contains the 2020 conforming limits for all 58 counties in California, listed in alphabetical order. In this table, “1 unit” refers to a single-family home, “2 unit” refers to a duplex-style home with two separate residents, etc.

County1-unit2-unit3-unit4-unit
ALAMEDA$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
ALPINE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
AMADOR$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
BUTTE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
CALAVERAS$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
COLUSA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
CONTRA COSTA$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
DEL NORTE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
EL DORADO$569,250$728,750$880,900$1,094,700
FRESNO$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
GLENN$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
HUMBOLDT$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
IMPERIAL$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
INYO$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
KERN$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
KINGS$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
LAKE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
LASSEN$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
LOS ANGELES$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
MADERA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
MARIN$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
MARIPOSA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
MENDOCINO$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
MERCED$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
MODOC$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
MONO$529,000$677,200$818,600$1,017,300
MONTEREY$672,750$861,250$1,041,050$1,293,750
NAPA$764,750$979,000$1,183,400$1,470,700
NEVADA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
ORANGE$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
PLACER$569,250$728,750$880,900$1,094,700
PLUMAS$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
RIVERSIDE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SACRAMENTO$569,250$728,750$880,900$1,094,700
SAN BENITO$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
SAN BERNARDINO$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SAN DIEGO$701,500$898,050$1,085,550$1,349,050
SAN FRANCISCO$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
SAN JOAQUIN$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SAN LUIS OBISPO$690,000$883,300$1,067,750$1,326,950
SAN MATEO$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
SANTA BARBARA$625,500$800,775$967,950$1,202,925
SANTA CLARA$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
SANTA CRUZ$765,600$980,325$1,184,925$1,472,550
SHASTA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SIERRA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SISKIYOU$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SOLANO$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SONOMA$704,950$902,450$1,090,850$1,355,700
STANISLAUS$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
SUTTER$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
TEHAMA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
TRINITY$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
TULARE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
TUOLUMNE$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700
VENTURA$713,000$912,750$1,103,350$1,371,150
YOLO$569,250$728,750$880,900$1,094,700
YUBA$510,400$653,550$789,950$981,700

So now we have a definition of a jumbo mortgage loan in California, in 2020. If you are borrowing more than the conforming limit for your county (shown above), you are entering jumbo territory. That doesn’t mean you can’t find financing in that price range. It just means you could face additional scrutiny and be required to make a larger down payment, compared to a “conforming” borrower.

Frequently Asked Questions

Borrowers tend to have a lot of questions about California jumbo loan limits, and other aspects of these “oversized” mortgages. Here are three of the most frequently asked questions:

Do jumbo loans have tougher requirements?

Oftentimes, yes. It’s common for mortgage lenders to impose stricter guidelines on jumbo home loans. This only makes sense, given the increased size of the loan and the added risk that it brings for the lender. As a result, they often require borrowers to have higher credit scores and to make larger down payments, when compared to borrowers seeking a smaller conforming loan.

Do they have higher mortgage rates?

Surprisingly, no. On average, jumbo loans tend to have lower mortgage rates than their smaller conforming counterparts. (It wasn’t always this way, but it has been for the past few years.)

For instance:

  • When this article was published the average rate for mortgage loans with a conforming balance was 4.94%. That was based on the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly application survey.
  • The average rate among jumbo loan borrowers during that same time period was 4.74% (or 20 basis points lower).

Those averages will have changed by the time you read this. But the point is that California jumbo loans usually have lower rates, on average, than conforming mortgage products.

How much income is needed to qualify?

This will depend on the mortgage lender you’re using. Since these loans are not eligible for GSE purchase, the rules and standards used by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the GSEs) generally do not apply. With a California jumbo loan, the income requirements can vary from lender to the next.

With that being said, many lenders today set a debt-to-income ratio limit somewhere around 45%, for jumbo loan borrowers. But again, it can vary.