More families eligible for FHA mortgages under Obama recovery plan

Maximum loan limit eligible for FHA mortgages under Obama recovery plan

February 26, 2009

More American families will be eligible this year to purchase or refinance their homes using affordable, FHA-insured mortgages, thanks to the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Obama last week. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will allow HUD's Federal Housing Administration to temporarily increase its maximum loan limit, allowing FHA to insure larger mortgages at a more affordable price in high-cost areas of the country.

"This is one of many elements of the President's recovery plan that will help homeowners and homebuyers in these high cost areas secure lower cost mortgage financing," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "These loan limit increases will help FHA continue to provide safe, affordable mortgage products to families in all areas of the nation. Today's announcement is just one example of how the President's recovery and homeowner affordability plans work together to make homeownership more affordable for those looking to buy a house or refinance their current loans."

HUD will increase FHA loan limits up to $729,750 in high-cost metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. There are 73 counties in the U.S. that will now be eligible for the highest loan limit of $729,750. Previously, FHA's loan limits in these high-cost areas were capped at $625,500. The change in loan limits is applicable to all FHA-insured mortgage loans originated until December 31, 2009.

Increasing loan limits will help FHA continue to provide needed stability to housing markets across the country. As conventional sources of mortgage credit have contracted, FHA has been filling the void. From September to December 2008, FHA facilitated $97 billion of much-needed mortgage activity in the housing market, $35 billion of which was through FHA's refinancing products. By focusing on 30-year fixed rate mortgages, FHA helps homeowners avoid and escape the risks associated exotic subprime mortgage products, which have resulted in rising default and foreclosure rates.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages

FHA's reverse mortgage product known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) will have a new national mortgage limit of $625,500, up from the previous limit of high of $417,000. Reverse mortgages allow homeowners age 62 and older to borrow against the value of their homes without selling them or having to make any monthly repayments. Homeowners can select a lump-sum payment, monthly payments or tap into a line of credit. No repayment is required as long as a homeowner lives in a home with a reverse mortgage. The reverse mortgage is repaid, with interest, when a homeowner sells the home or dies.

FHA loan limits are based on the county in which the property is located. However, for properties located in metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas, the limit is set for the county with the highest median home price within the metropolitan or micropolitan area.

The new temporary FHA loan limits are posted on the HUD Web site, https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm. Additional details on these new temporary loan limits, including FHA's mortgagee letter and attachments, are available at http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/index.cfm.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to sustaining homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

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