President Approves Higher Loan Limits: On Wednesday (2/13), President Bush signed the economic stimulus package that includes a temporary increase in the conforming loan limits for mortgages backed by the GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the FHA. The new loan limits could rise to $729,750 in high-cost regions.
According to NAR, more than 85,000 REALTORS® contacted their senators urging them to support the increased loan limits and to pass the stimulus package.
REALTOR® Impact: Higher loan limits will have a direct positive impact on REALTORS®. The policy change will allow more buyers (both first-time and move-up buyers) to access loans with lower interest rates. Currently, most home buyers in high-cost regions (such as the SF Bay Area) must finance their purchases with non-conforming "jumbo" loans. The interest rates on these loans can be up to one percentage point higher than those that fall within the current $417,000 limit. Higher rates mean higher payments which could keep potential buyers out of the market. Lower raters will make access to capital easier and provide the incentive for buyers to get off the fence and into real estate.
Next Steps: We may see new loan products as soon as late April or early May. According to sources at C.A.R., the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will have up to 30 days to finalize the actual amount of the regional loan limits. Once the limits are set, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will need to update their procedures to reflect the changes. Shifting from a national loan limit to region limits is a major change for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Regardless, our sources tell us that both GSEs want to implement the new limits as soon as possible.
CAR is not sure when the FHA will respond. However, they may be able to implement the new limits quicker than the GSEs.
This report is compliments of Bay East's Governent Affairs Director David Stark!