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In NYC, any loan over $625,000 is called a jumbo loan (the minimum in less expensive markets is $417,000). Typically, jumbo loans, also known as "nonconforming loans," are issued to borrowers with the best credit.
But lenders have been making it easier for borrowers — millenials included — to qualify for jumbo loans, allowing them to compensate for income and credit shortfalls in other ways (for instance, with reserves and capital gains from stock).
Also, while jumbo loans used to come with higher interest rates, now the rates attached to them are sometimes actually lower.
And, according to the Journal, some lenders are only requiring downpayments of just 10 to 15 percent for jumbo loans -- even in NYC (assuming the borrower is extremely qualified). While that's still a large chunk of change on a mortgage over $625,000, many millenials turn to their baby boomer parents for help on down payments.
Even for those who can't turn to mom and dad for help or can't qualify for a jumbo loan, there are options, including government-backed programs that allow for just 3 percent down payments.