I’ve had several people ask me about the change in FHA loan limits and what impact it may have on home buyers and home sellers. Up until December 31, 2013, the maximum loan amount that a borrower could receive under FHA was $580,000 for Sacramento and Placer counties. Starting in January 2014 the maximum FHA loan amount is now $474,950 for FHA in the same areas. The only exception to the new loan limit is if a home was assigned an FHA case number prior to the end of 2013. FHA gave little notice of this change with a formal announcement occurring in early December 2013.
FHA doesn’t make loans but does insure lenders against defaults that have been funded using FHA. There are many reasons why a buyer may choose to use FHA as a method of financing a home.
• Only 3.5% down payment (with max loan of $474,950)
• Lower FICO score requirement than Conventional Loans
• Higher DTI (debt to income ratios) allowed vs Conventional
• After short sale, able to purchase sooner than Conventional
o FHA has a “back to work” program that allows qualifying buyers to purchase a home 12 months after a short sale.
How will this affect the market is unclear at this point in time. Homes priced under $500,000 should experience little negative impact. However, homes selling in the mid $500,000 range and up could be negatively impacted if FHA is heavily used in the area. Some home buyers who must use FHA may have to reduce the purchase price they have been considering. This could negatively impact demand for higher priced homes. If we see strong demand, the change in FHA loan limits may have little impact.
We’ll have to see how the selling season unfolds in the coming weeks to ultimately understand the impact of the change in FHA loan limits. In the bigger picture, the overall real estate market is moving toward equilibrium. Communities with higher priced homes are seeing slower appreciation and some increase in inventory leading to a balanced market. Lower priced homes will likely continue to be in a seller’s market in the short term. Most experts suggest that home prices will continue to increase in 2014, though not at the rate we’ve seen over the last few years. Instead, they are predicting an appreciation rate of around 6%. Interest rates by the end of the year are expected to be somewhere between 5% and 6%. If you would like to find out what the maximum FHA loan limit is for your area, click the link below.
https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm (all you need to do is put in the county and hit send).
Contact me if you would like more information. Hope that helps!