Understanding Non-QM Loans and How They Work

Nontraditional Mortgages
Mortgage 101
Non-QM loan products are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a flexible option for borrowers who don't qualify for traditional QM loans. This blog post will provide an overview of non-QM loan types, key differences between non-QM and QM loans, and the potential risks and benefits associated with offering non-QM loans.
Published on
May 3, 2023
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For many years, qualified mortgage (QM) loans were the standard option for homebuyers and lenders. However, not all borrowers fit the mold of a traditional QM borrower, leading to the development of non-qualified mortgage (non-QM) loans. In this blog post, we will discuss non-QM loan products, their different types, how they differ from QM loans, and their risks and benefits.

Overview of Non-QM Loan Types:

Non-QM loans are designed for borrowers who may not meet the strict requirements for QM loans, such as those who are self-employed or have less than perfect credit. Non-QM loans come in various types, such as:

  • Bank statement loans: These loans allow self-employed individuals to use their bank statements as proof of income instead of traditional tax returns.
  • Interest-only loans: These loans allow borrowers to pay only the interest on their mortgage for a set period, typically five to ten years.
  • Jumbo loans: These loans exceed the maximum loan limit set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are typically used for high-end properties.
  • Asset depletion loans: These loans allow borrowers to use their assets, such as savings, stocks, and retirement accounts, as proof of income.
Key Differences between Non-QM and QM Loans:

QM loans are subject to strict requirements and guidelines set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), while non-QM loans have more flexibility. Some key differences between non-QM and QM loans include:

  • Income documentation: Non-QM loans may require less documentation than QM loans, allowing self-employed borrowers or those with non-traditional income sources to qualify.
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI): QM loans have a maximum DTI ratio of 43%, while non-QM loans may allow higher DTI ratios, depending on the lender and the loan product.
  • Interest rates: Non-QM loans typically have higher interest rates than QM loans due to the increased risk for lenders.
Risks and Benefits of Offering Non-QM Loans:

Lenders who offer non-QM loans face both risks and benefits. The benefits include reaching a broader range of borrowers and potentially higher profits due to higher interest rates. However, non-QM loans also carry more risk for lenders, as they may have lower credit scores or higher DTI ratios. Lenders must also ensure that they comply with all relevant laws and regulations when offering non-QM loans to avoid legal issues and penalties.


In conclusion, non-QM loan products offer borrowers who may not qualify for traditional QM loans the opportunity to purchase a home or refinance. As always, it's essential to work with a reputable lender and obtain expert advice to make an informed decision.

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