Friday, October 30, 2009

Government Loan Limits

Good news to report: President Obama is expected to sign a resolution passed late yesterday by Congress extending the current limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA loans through 2010. The limits were set to expire at the end of this year. This is especially critical for California, where more than 80 percent of all loans are financed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or FHA, and will help maintain the positive signs we are now seeing in California’s mortgage market. President Obama is expected to sign the resolution today or tomorrow as part of a broader piece of budgetary legislation that will prevent a government shutdown.

While home prices in California have declined, the demand for housing has not. The market has been dominated by first-time home buyers who have faced a shortage of financing opportunities. The loan limits are set at 125 percent of local median home sales prices, up to a maximum of $729,750 in high-cost areas, including many regions in California. Sales in move-up and high-end markets have been constrained this year; the loan limits extension will help qualified home buyers in these markets to move forward with their purchases.

Although loan limits are safe through 2010, there is still work to be done. Congress has yet to act to extend the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit past its current Nov. 30 expiration date. Yet the impact of the home buyer tax credit is clear: A C.A.R. survey of first-time home buyers shows that 40 percent would not have purchased a home without the tax credit.