Mortgage rates on conforming loans up to loan amounts of $417,000, and $729,750 in high-cost housing markets like San Francisco and New York City, are attractively low — hovering close to 5 percent. That’s the good news. The challenge is getting through the approval process.

Several years ago, one couple bought a home in Hercules, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area, for $650,000, with no cash down payment and no documentation of their income, employment or assets. They would not have qualified using conventional financing with full documentation. Their income didn’t support a $650,000 mortgage.

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