Into the mystic: Fannie and Freddie predict what is in store for housing in 2017.

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businessman-crytal-ball

In a sign that the average cost of houses is increasing across the country, the conforming loan limit for loans to be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will increase in 2017 for the first time in ten years.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced the maximum conforming loan in most parts of the country (including South Carolina) will increase from $417,000 to $424,100. Stated another way, a borrower will not have to qualify for a “jumbo loan” unless the amount to be borrowed exceeds $424,100.

This change should help qualified buyers, particularly in our coastal areas where home prices are higher, obtain mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even though credit remains tight and interest rates are likely to increase.

This is the time of the year when all of us involved in the housing industry are charged with looking into the proverbial crystal ball and projecting how we think the real estate market for the new year will compare with the current year.  For what it’s worth (and this and $5 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks), I’m projecting around a 3 percent increase for next year in South Carolina. Let me know what your crystal ball is disclosing!

Federal Housing Finance Agency Announces Conforming Loan Limits for 2016

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The maximum remains the same in most markets

FHFA LogoSpeculation 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.