Jumbo loans, also called Non-Conforming loans, are loans that do not conform to the Conforming loan limits. Conforming loan limits can be found by clicking here. If you have a loan amount that is higher than the Conforming loan limits, then you have a Jumbo loan. Jumbo loans require that a mortgage borrower has cash reserves. The Jumbo loan cash reserves requirement is different from Conforming loans, in that Conforming loans many times do not require cash reserves at all.
Cash reserves is a certain amount that a lender may require that the borrower has left over after they pay their down payment and closing costs at closing, in reserve.
Different lenders have different requirements for cash reserves for their Jumbo loans. There are requirements for the amount of cash reserves, and there are requirements for the types of cash reserves.
Amount of cash reserves (the below is illustrative as it may vary from lender to lender):
6 months of the PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) are required in general.
4 months PITI if you are retaining your current primary residence
4 months PITI for each rental property you own
4 months PITI for a second home/vacation home that you own
Cash reserves are based on all recurring housing expenses for the subject property and in some cases for other property owned by the borrower. Cash reserves are also cumulative, so if you are buying a new home and have a rental property, per the above, you may need 10 months of cash reserves. Housing expenses, also known as principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and assessments (PITIA), include but are not limited to:
- Principal and Interest (as used in the qualifying payment amount)
- Insurances (hazard, flood, and/or mortgage)
- Real Estate Taxes
- Ground rent/leasehold
- Special Assessments
- Homeowners’ association fees
- Monthly co-op fees
- Any home equity loan or HELOC payment, if applicable
Types of cash reserves:
- Cash accounts (checking account, savings account, money market accounts, CD’s)
- Mutual Funds
- Gift money is usually not allowed to count towards cash reserves
- Retirement accounts may or may not be allowed to count towards cash reserves
I have seen lenders go back and forth over the years on allowing retirement accounts, such as 401(k), 403(b), IRA, and TSP; to be used as cash reserves.
When a mortgage lender is considering retirement accounts as cash reserves, they are not suggesting that you must liquidate or borrow against the retirement account to generate cash. Lenders are only considering the balance of the retirement account without having to liquidate any of it or borrow against any of it.
Retirement accounts are not very liquid, and hence they shouldn’t be considered cash, which is why at some points in time I’ve seen lenders not allow retirement accounts to count towards cash reserves requirements.
But currently, as of the date of this blog, we have many lenders we work with that allow retirement accounts to be used as cash reserves. This is an important development because it now allows borrowers to only need to have their down payment and closing costs liquid, but not the cash reserves.