February 21st, 2008 · 9 Comments
All hail our legislative and executive branches for passing into law the latest shot of adrenaline to our economy: the 2008 stimulus package. And it looks like a record was set with how fast the bill became law– wow, pretty impressive… Efforts like providing consumers with tax refund checks and businesses with additional write-offs should certainly inject the economy with billions of dollars, but many have asked me how raising the conforming loan limit, especially in CA, will truly stimulate the economy. Further, many of those have asked me whether it’s really the right thing to do.
Let’s start with whether it’s the right thing to do. Probably one of the better arguments against raising the conforming loan limit is the fact that doing so seems to reward those institutions and individuals that/who put us into this mess. If estimates by the National Association of Realtors is correct, 500,000 refinance transactions will be generated, 300,000 additional homes will be purchased and 210,000 foreclosures will be avoided. So if we conservatively estimate the revenue generated and the losses avoided using industry standards, the total is over 40 billion dollars! $40 billion certainly helps answer the question of how such an effort helps the economy; but again, why help those who caused billions of dollars of losses and a turned the market upside down? Shouldn’t we be punishing those bad, bad people and institutions? Well, the truth is that many of those institutions and individuals have gone away or moved on. So let’s take a moment to see what’s being created here.
Raising the conforming loan limit has the following benefits:
- It does in fact greatly stimulate the economy
- Many consumers who got in over their head will now be able to afford their mortgage
- Greater affordability for housing is created
- It will influence a portion of the jumbo market that has been lost and create some investor confidence, and finally
- California has been long overdue to have a raise to the conforming limit given that over 50% of the nation’s jumbo mortgages were originated in California.
Okay, let’s say that raising the conforming loan limit is good for a moment. What’s next and what are the details? There’s still some speculation, but here goes:
- The conforming loan amount will be determined based on 125% of the median price of a given county…
- This allowance will NOT go into effect for purchase or refinance transactions until July 1, 2008 (that’s the earliest date that the loan application may be signed) since the market needs from now to June 30, 2008 to liquidate current qualifying mortgages available for sale from institutions
- The types of programs allowed will be fixed-rate programs on a full-doc basis, which means that the hybrid, interest-only programs using “stated” income will not be allowed
- The property must be single-family and owner occupied, which means that 2nd homes, investment properties and multi-unit properties are ineligible
- Credit scores must be “reasonable” with a combined loan-to-value not to exceed 90%
- No cash-out, which means that a refinance may not allow the borrower to receive any greater than $2,000 at closing
- Loans must be funded and closed prior to December 31, 2008
The last question really has to do with what pricing of conforming loans will look like come July 1, 2008. My prediction is that, all things being equal today, that conforming loan rates will increase and that jumbo loan rates will decrease, leaving a much smaller margin between conforming and jumbo loans in the future. Since all things won’t be equal due to decreased short-term rates by the Fed and the overall stimulus package helping the economy, conforming loan rates will increase greater than jumbo loan rates will decrease. So, if you’re buying closer to the conforming level today, you’re better off getting a mortgage for the long term; if you’re at the jumbo level today, you’re likely better off going more for a short-term solution. Of course always consult closely with your mortgage, tax and legal professional for the best advice as it relates to your individual situation.
, Conforming Loan Limit
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Tags: Buyer · Buyers · Consumer · Industry · Mortgage · Real estate
February 19th, 2008 · 2 Comments
I’d like to thank Kristen Emery at Princeton Capital in Palo Alto for providing me with the first bit of information that actually explains what the changes to conforming loans will mean to someone in Silicon Valley trying to buy a home.
A little light reading for you:
We have seen a whirlwind of legislative activity these past few weeks! There is much confusion surrounding the recentlypassed Economic Stimulus Package and higher loan limits. Unfortunately, the new law can be confusing to decipher, andnot everyone will benefit. For this reason, we have provided an outline below that clarifies what this new law means for youand how you can benefit from the higher loan limits.
Description and Overview:An economic stimulus package just passed Congress on February 7, 2008 and was signed into law by the President onFebruary 13, 2008. This new law is effective immediately and includes a temporary increase in both the FHA andconforming loan limits to as high as $729,750 in high cost areas. This means that the interest rates on many mortgages willgo down because these loans are now eligible to be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or insured by the FederalHousing Administration (FHA). Previously, the FHA was only allowed to insure loans with balances lower than $200,160 -$362,790, depending on the county where the property was located. Also, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were only allowedto purchase loans with balances at or below $417,000. This resulted in limited options and higher financing costs for thosewith loan balances above these limits. The new law substantially increases these limits in high cost areas and opens upnew options and lower financing costs for many people.
How to Determine “High Cost” AreasThere are two things you must know in order to determine if you are in a high cost area:
1. Understanding the Formula
If 125% of the local area median home price exceeds $417,000, the temporary loan limitwould be that 125% of the median home price with a cap of $729,750. Here are threeexamples to illustrate this concept: If the median home price in your area is $375,000, 125% of that number is$468,750. Thisis above the current $417k conforming loan limit. Therefore, the conforming loan limit inyour area WILL change and go up to $468,750. This number is also higher than thehighest FHA loan limits, so therefore your FHA loan limit will also go up to $468,750. If the median home price in your area is $650,000, 125% of that number is $812,500.This number is greater than the maximum cap of $729,250. Therefore, the conforming loan limit in your area willincrease to highest allowable amount under this new law which is $729,250. (Our median home price is $612,000 for Santa Clara County).
2. Determining the Median Home Price in Your Area
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will publish the median house prices within 30 days of the billgoing into effect (30 days from February 13, 2008). HUD does not have any interim stats or information for us to use. However, the bill also states that HUD can use any commercially available data if they are unable to compile theinformation on their own within the 30 day timeframe. With that in mind, it is likely that HUD’s numbers will be relativelyconsistent with the data published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which already has a solid track record oftracking and publishing this information on a quarterly basis. Therefore, until HUD actually publishes their version of the median home prices, the most accurate way to get thisinformation today is to utilize the data that is published by NAR. Ironically, NAR just released their latest median homeprice update for the 4th quarter of 2007 on February 14, 2008! Contact me today and I’ll research your info and let youknow exactly what the median home price is in your area and how you can benefit from this information.
What do all the dates mean?
There is some confusion because the bill has a provision that says the higher limits areonly effective for loans originated between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. Inshort, the reason it is effective beginning July 1, 2007, is because the credit crisis startedto unfold in July and August of 2007. Mortgage market conditions rapidly deterioratedalmost overnight. Many secondary market investors suddenly refused to purchase loansthat couldn’t be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (For more info on how this processworks, please see the article entitled Saga of the US Mortgage Industry.) Unfortunately, many mortgage banks had already funded these loans in their ownportfolio or through their warehouse lines of credit. Their intention was obviously to sellthese loans on the secondary market after the loans were funded. However, the creditcrisis prevented them from doing so, and they were stuck holding these loans in theirportfolio. The July 1, 2007 date in the bill is designed to allow these lenders to unloadthese mortgages and sell them on the secondary market to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
However, the July 1, 2007 date has no bearing whatsoever on new refinance transactions!
In other words, it doesn’tmatter when the loan you are refinancing was originated. The old loan could have been originated in 2005, 2006 oranytime before or after July 1, 2007 and it would have no effect whatsoever on your current purchase or refinancetransaction.
If you are refinancing a new loan today, whether it is a purchase or refinance transaction, that loan issubject to the new limits set forth in the bill.
The other date of December 31, 2008 means that the old limits will go back into effect after this year. In other words, now isthe perfect time to buy a new home or refinance your mortgage because after this year, your costs will be higher and youroptions more limited again.
When does this all go into effect?
February 13, 2008 – immediately upon the President’s signature. Therefore, HUD is obligated to publish the median homeprices within 30 days of that date. However, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and various wholesale lenders may have different policies as to how these new loans are going to be priced and underwritten.
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Tags: 2008 real estate market
, Conforming Loans
, first-time buyer
, Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007
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Tags: * Type of Content · Analysis · Burlingame · Buyer · Buyer and seller tips · Buyers · Consumer · Financing Process · For buyers · Foster City · Loan Application · Market updates · Menlo Park · Mortgages · Mountain View · Palo Alto · Preapproval · Prequalification · Redwood City · Redwood Shores · San Carlos
February 19th, 2008 · 1 Comment
. . . Said my friend Amy to me the other day. Since she is sort of a typical first time buyer, (actually not), I decided to make an example of her and contribute to her 15 mins of fame.
Amy is your somewhat typical Sillycon Valley MBA tech-marketing type. She works in marketing for a large company, so her income is derived from her salary, as opposed to commissions or stock options that may or may not vest. The company is stable, so her bonuses tend to be consistent and her income fairly predictable. She recently moved from one giant tech company to a large one, so she has a number of years of experience in her industry and job classification, excellent credit, and some equity from a condo that she sold.
Being an MBA, and financially conservative (politically liberal), she can comfortably afford something in the $650K price range, even in the current lending environment. The previous idea was for her to take out two mortgages, a conforming loan of $417,000, and then a second or equity line to cover the rest.
Now that Mr. W. has signed off on the stimulus package that included a short-term increase in the conforming loan limit for 2008, Amy’s interest in buying a house has gone up. The tax rebate will let her buy her kids a happy meal and some new jeans, so her interest is much more in the mortgage changes.
At the time of our conversation, the difference in rates between a conforming (under $417,000) and jumbo ($417,001+) loan was about .75%, depending on a million things, which I will leave to co-contributor Eric Trailer to explain. Jsut plugging in some numbers, on a loan of $585,000 (10% down on our $650K house), her payments would drop about $4300 a year excluding taxes if that loan was at the lower rate. Now we are talking interesting.
Admittedly, this is very simplified, because it doesn’t take into account the cost of a conforming first and then a second, or whether lenders will have tiered pricing based on the loan amount, or credit scores, documented vs. non-documented income, etc., etc., etc.
My intent is to show the effect of this new law on “normal” Silicon Valley home buyers who have “normal” jobs, and are trying to put a roof over their heads. While the tax rebates of a few hundred dollars will only have minor impacts on most of us (I get $300, I think), the effect on home buying capability will be potentially significant.
Let the comments fly, and thanks for reading.
Tags: 2008 loan limits, Conforming Loans
, economic stimulus
, Home buying
, Jumbo Loans
, mortgage mania
, mortgage rates
, new home buyer
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February 7th, 2008 · 5 Comments
Ah yes, the sweet, sweet smell of pork comes wafting across the country from Washington D.C. where, CAR informs us, the final Stimulus Package bill includes increased conforming loan limits — a feature that had earlier been in danger of not making it through. The CAR press release:
Thanks in part to lobbying by C.A.R. and NAR members, the Senate passed their version of an economic stimulus package today, Thursday, February 07, 2008. The Senate version expands rebate checks for seniors and disabled veterans and includes the same increases to the conforming loan limits for both GSE and FHA found in the House stimulus package. The House just passed the Senate version of the bill and it will now be sent to the White House. The President is expected to sign the legislation by the end of next week, ahead of the Congressional self-appointed deadline of February 15th. The increase in the conforming loan limits will last through 2008, but C.A.R. and NAR continue to lobby for FHA and GSE reform, making these increases permanent.
Interpretation: it’s an election year and the national debt already has more digits than a centipede, so what’s another couple of gazillion bucks?
As soon as this bill passes, expect a wave of re-financing for folks in California and other high-priced states who weren’t able to qualify for conforming loans at the old limit of $417K, but will now qualify with the higher limit of some $700K. Given that the delta between interest rates on conforming and Jumbo loans is a full percent or more, that could spell big relief for some.
Problem is: Will the typical homeowner who benefits from this actually squirrel away the extra couple of hundred bucks, or instead blow it on more toys?
Tags: Conforming Loans
, Election Year Shenanigans, Industry
, Jumbo Loans
, Politics, Pork
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Tags: Consumer · Industry
January 24th, 2008 · 7 Comments
Several changes are afoot that may give some breathing room to the troubled parts of the housing market — which includes much of the country, even some areas here in the Peninsula. The Fed’s surprise 75-basis point rate drop a few days ago may lead to lower mortgage rates, and some of those with soon-to-reset adjustable rate mortgages may also be breathing easier.
The news today is that the House of Representatives has signed off on at least a temporary increase in the conforming loan limit, from its current level of $417,000 (more than enough for much of the country, almost irrelevant here) to $625,000, and perhaps as high as $700,000 in high-cost states. Now if the Senate and W. sign off on it, we could have ourselves a deal!
Currently, conforming loans (those which are guaranteed and resold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are limited to $417,000 in most states, but are about 50% higher in “high-cost” states like Hawaii and Alaska. By some twisted government logic, California is not included as a “high-cost” state.
What impact would raising the limit from $417,000 to $625,000 have on our local market? As a non-mortgage professional, here’s my take on it… (I’m hoping that a local mortgage expert or two may chime in here.)
First, if you’re buying a $1.5M home and putting $300K down — ie you’re borrowing $1.2M — nothing would change for you. Since you’re borrowing more than the limit, your loan can’t and won’t be resold and guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, and the risk premium for this has increased dramatically over the last year. A quick check over at bankrate.com shows a full 1.16% price difference between a conforming 30-year mortgage at 5.25% and a jumbo 30-year mortgage at 6.41%. Sorry, you’re stuck in the 6.41% camp.
However, if you’re buying a less expensive home — or putting down a lot more money — this could help dramatically. Say you’re buying a $750,000 home and you’re planning on putting $125,000 down — ie you’re getting a $625,000 loan.
Currently, that’s above the conforming loan limit, so with today’s rates you’d be paying (click click click on my calculator) $3914 per month. If the bill passes, you could get that same $625,000 loan for for 5.25% (click click click) or $3451 per month. That’s a handy pre-tax savings of a tad over $500/month, hardly chump change.
The lesson? If this bill passes, and the numbers work out such that the home you’ve been eying would require a loan between $417,000 and $625,000, here’s what you need to do:
- Scramble, beg, borrow, steal — do whatever you need to do in order to get enough of a downpayment to bring your loan in under $625,000.
- Work with your mortgage person to get a big enough second mortgage so that your first comes in under $625,000
Brian Brady notes that some political horse-trading may be ongoing as part of the negotiations. In particular, President Bush may have dropped his insistence on increases in loan limits being tied greater regulatory oversight.
The Front Steps blog posits that this will cause a rush of demand for appropriately priced properties in San Francisco, leading to a good year for real estate.
A commenter at Socketsite notes the downside of this move: Hooray! Privatize profits, then socialize the losses…Now all the troubled lenders can refinance this toxic garbage and put it into Fannie/Freddie’s lap (oh, and FHA too.)…I’m saving my $300 tax rebate (that I don’t qualify for) so that I can pay my share of the bailout.
The OFHEO (government body charged with oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) released a hefty 19-page position paper earlier this month with some fascinating statistics. Of particular note:
Nearly 50% — half — of all jumbo loans come from California.
Secondly, this graph, from the same OFHEO report, clearly shows the havoc the whole mortgage fiasco has caused to the Jumbo loan market: the difference in interest rates between conforming and Jumbo loans more than quadrupled in 2007. Here’s how to read this graph: In January 2007, the interest rate difference between conforming and Jumbo loans was a scant 20 basis points; a confirming loan product at, say 6%, would have a comparable Jumbo product at 6.2%; by the end of 2007, that difference had increased to 80 basis points, so a conforming product at 6% would have a corresponding Jumbo product at 6.8%.
That’s real money, folks!
Caveat: I am not a mortgage broker or banker. In particular, I am not your mortgage broker or banker. The above represents my layman’s understanding of the issue. Don’t make any kind of home purchasing decision based solely on the above. Talk to your mortgage professional. ‘Nuff said.
Tags: Conforming Loans
, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Mortgages
, Real estate
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Tags: Buyers · Consumer · Mortgage · Real estate