Good Luck, Joe
The terms "conventional" and "conforming" are so often misused that people don't even notice anymore. It happens to be one of my pet peeves .
What is a conventional loan:
Well, it's very simple, a conventional loan is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government. Therefore, a portfolio loan is a conventional loan so if someone said you cannot get conventional financing for more than 4 properties, they would not be telling the truth or they have no idea what the term conventional means. Conventional loans have no limits and no guidelines other than they are not government backed.
What is a conforming loan:
A Conforming loan is one that conforms to standards set forth by government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The 1-4 property rule and no cash out for 5-10 is a conforming guideline, not a conventional guideline.
Loan amount is one parameter that often determines conforming eligibility. Currently the highest conforming loan limit is $625,500 in MA. A loan amount above this would still be a conventional loan, it would just be a non-conforming conventional loan. The financing that you need assuming you need to cash out your 4th rental and you did not buy it within the last 6 months is a conventional non-conforming mortgage.
I hope this helps with the terminology, it's very hard to understand the advice given when people consistently use the incorrect terminology. Sorry to say, agents are notorious for this and make life miserable when they do.
Slightly confusing but an experienced loan officer in MA should be able to walk you through it. If you would like a good referral to someone who actually understand this, rather than a random referral from an agent, please let me know.