The maximum remains the same in most markets
Speculation earlier this year was that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) would increase the limits for conforming loans in 2016 above the current amount of $417,000. But FHFA recently announced that the current limit would remain in place for most of the country.
The limit is increased above $417,000 in only 39 counties in the United States. The so called “high cost” counties are located in the metro areas surrounding Denver, Boston, Nashville and Seattle as well as four counties in California.
By way of background, a conforming loan is a mortgage loan that meets the guidelines established by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conforming loans require uniform mortgage documentation and national standards dealing with loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, credit scores and credit history. Conforming loans are repackaged to be sold on the secondary market. Because Fannie and Freddie do not purchase non-conforming loans, there is a much smaller secondary market for those loans.
The FHFA publishes conforming loan limits each year. Loans above the conforming limit are considered jumbo loans, which cannot be purchased by Fannie and Freddie and which typically have higher interest rates.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 established a baseline loan limit of $417,000 and required that after a period of housing price declines, the baseline loan limit cannot be increased until housing prices return to pre-decline levels.