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What is a Qualified Mortgage?

A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, less risky features that help make it more likely that you’ll be able to afford your loan.

A lender must make a good-faith effort to determine that you have the ability to repay your mortgage before you take it out. This is known as the “ability-to-repay” rule. If your loan is a Qualified Mortgage it means the lender met certain requirements and it’s assumed that the lender followed the ability-to-repay rule.

Generally, the requirements for a qualified mortgage include:

  • Certain risky loan features are not permitted, such as:
    • An “interest-only” period, when you pay only the interest without paying down the principal, which is the amount of money you borrowed.
    • "Negative amortization,” which can allow your loan principal to increase over time, even though you’re making payments.
    • "Balloon payments,” which are larger-than-usual payments at the end of a loan term. The loan term is the length of time over which your loan should be paid back. Note that balloon payments are allowed under certain conditions for loans made by small lenders.
    • Loan terms that are longer than 30 years.
  • A limit on the price of your loan. The annual percentage rate, or APR, on a Qualified Mortgage cannot be higher than a particular threshold. This threshold can depend on the type or size of your loan.
  • No excess upfront points and fees. If you get a Qualified Mortgage, there are limits on the amount of certain up-front points and fees your lender can charge. These limits will depend on the size of your loan. Not all charges, like the cost of a FHA insurance premiums, for example, are included in this limit. If the points and fees exceed the threshold, then the loan can’t be considered a Qualified Mortgage.
  • Consider and verify income or assets and debts. For your loan to be a Qualified Mortgage, your lender must consider and verify your current monthly income or assets (other than the value of the property that will secure your loan) and your monthly debt. Your lender must also consider either how much of your income can go towards your monthly debt, including your mortgage and all other monthly debt payments (known as your debt-to-income ratio) or how much of your income you will have left over after paying your monthly debt (known as your residual income).