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Jumbo loans are back at bargain prices

Jumbo loans are becoming a bigger bargain than conforming loans. (AP)

Jumbo mortgages have not only been difficult to find but also to afford.

Now, for the first time since the national mortgage meltdown, jumbo loans are becoming a bigger bargain than conforming loans.

Lenders are offering jumbo mortgages at lower rates -- more than a quarter of a percentage point -- than conforming loans that are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, CNNMoney reports.

Other than some high-cost areas, jumbo mortgages are for amounts greater than $417,000.

Generally, banks charge higher rates on jumbo mortgages, typically about a quarter of a percentage point more than conforming loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But recently that has reversed.

For example, Wells Fargo is offering a 30-year jumbo mortgage rate this week at 4.125 percent. In comparison, it is offering a 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgage at 4.5 percent. US Bank is offering a jumbo mortgage rate for 3.875 percent, compared with 4.25 percent for a conforming loan.

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