2013 Mortgage Loan Limits for King County

rate changesThe 2013 mortgage loan limits for the  greater Seattle area are for the most part, the same as 2012.  The following loan limits apply for homes located in King, Snohomish or Pierce Counties.


1 Unit: $506,000

2 Unit: $647,750

3 Unit: $783,000

4 Unit: $973,100


1 Unit: $567,500

2 Unit: $726,500

3 Unit: $878,150

4 Unit: $1,091,351



NOTE: Technically speaking, VA loans do not have a “limit”. $500,000 is the highest loan amount for a “zero down” VA loan. If a qualified Veteran wishes to buy a home priced above $500,000, the down payment will be 25% of the difference between the sales price/appraised value (lowest of the two) and $500,000.  For example, a $600,000 sales price would have a down payment of $25,000 ($600,000 less $500,000 = $100,000 x 25% = $25,000).

You can find a complete list of loan limits by county for homes located in Washington state in the “footer” of my blog.

2009 Conforming and Conforming Jumbo Loan Limits for Seattle Metro

Update April 9, 2009:  On February 23, 2009 FHFA announced that according to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 2009 loan limits will be revised to the 2008 loan limits.  As of this update, we’re anticipating the higher revised limits to take place at any time (1-Unit for this area will return to $567,500).  FHA has all ready implemented the loan limit changes.   This serves as a reminder that any information on the internet regarding mortgages can be out dated in a fairly short amount of time.

This morning, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced the 2009 conforming and jumbo conforming loan limits for 2009.  The conforming loan limit will remain at $417,000.  The jumbo conforming was reduced to 115% of median home value from 125%, with the passage of HR 3221.   Based on the new lower estimated home values, the 2009 conforming jumbo limits for King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties are:

  • 1-Unit:  $506,000
  • 2-Unit:  $647,500
  • 3-Unit:  $783,000
  • 4-Unit:  $973,100

Some banks and lenders have all ready began to send notices that they will stop accepting locks for the 2008 conforming jumbo limits ($567,500 for 1-unit) effective later this month.    This is done so that once the loan is sold and closed to Fannie or Freddie, the loan limit is compliant.   (You may not have until the end of the year to take advantage of the $567,500 loan limit).

More to follow…including updated rates this afternoon.

The Housing Rescue Bill

Today President Bush signed a housing “rescue” bill HR 3221.  I’m really still absorbing all of this (I think it’s taking me a bit longer after my trip to Inman Connect).   Here are a few quick pointers:

The FHA risked base mortgage insurance pricing (which I’m in favor of) that was to be effective last week is now postponed until September 30, 2009.   FHA can now save some borrowers in trouble with their mortgage if their existing lender will forgive the underlying debt to 85% 90% of the current value of the home.   Gee…risked based MIP might be handy in these cases.

Also with FHA, Seller paid down payment assistance programs are will be gone and the minimum down payment for an FHA insured loan will be 3.5% (which is a very small increase) beginning October 1, 2008.

Jumbo FHA and Jumbo Conforming loan limits will be reduced from the current 125% of median home value to 115% of the median home value beginning January 1, 2009.   As I mentioned, your days of a loan amount of $567,500 are numbered.   The new conforming/FHA jumbo limit may be closer to $520,000.  

First time homebuyers (someone who has not had interested in a property for the past 3 years) are eligible to receive a tax credit…however, it’s really an interest free loan to be paid back over 15 years or from the proceeds when the home is sold (which ever comes first).  This is available only for homes purchased on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009.  Income restrictions do apply.   For more information, check out this website.   

Last but not least (and I’m sure I’m missing stuff) Fannie and Freddie have a new regulator: The Federal Finance Housing Agency aka FHFA.   This from James B. Lockhart:

“Today President Bush signed the ‘Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.’ I thank President Bush and Secretary Paulson for their leadership in making government sponsored enterprise (GSE) regulatory reform a reality.

The Act creates a world-class, empowered regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), with all the authorities necessary to oversee vital components of our country’s secondary mortgage markets — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks — at a very challenging time.  As Director of the new agency I look forward to working with the combined Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), Office of Federal Housing Enterprise (OFHEO) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) GSE Mission teams and with other regulators to ensure the safety and soundness of the 14 housing related GSEs and the stability of the nation’s housing finance system.

For more than two years as Director of OFHEO I have worked to help create FHFA so that this new GSE regulator has far greater authorities than its predecessors.  As Director of FHFA, I commit that we will use these authorities to ensure that the housing GSEs provide stability and liquidity to the mortgage market, support affordable housing and operate safely and soundly.”

Too much to write about in detail for one post…just wanted to throw you some bits.

Sellers and Agents: Don't Rule Out FHA Buyers

I was just working on a finance flyer for a listing agent…something I haven’t done in years!   Anyhow, the home is priced at $442,000 and she requested a 30 year and 5/1 ARM both with 20% down for scenarios…I added FHA at 3% down.  The property is in King County and would qualify under the FHA Jumbo program.   Until the end of the year (I suspect the “economic stimulus” loan limits will be extended beyond) Sellers have an opportunity to expose their homes to buyers beyond the normal “jumbo” or conforming market.  

Here’s a comparison:

30 Year Fixed with 20% down at 5.75% (APR 5.902%).   Principal and interest payment = $2,064.  Cash needed to close = $88,400 plus closing costs of approx. $6,000 (the rate is priced with 1 origintation/discount point) plus prepaids.    This rate requires a mid credit score of 720 or higher. 

5/1 ARM-LIBOR with 20% down at 5.25% (APR 6.810%).  Principal and interest payment = $1,953.   Cash needed to close = $88,400 plus closing cost of approx. $2,350 (the rate is priced with zero discount/origination points) plus prepaids.   This rate also requires a mid credit score of 720 or better.

FHA-JUMBO 30 Year Fixed with 3% down at 6.25% (APR 7.030%).   Principal, interest and mortgage insurance = $2,850.64.   Amount needed to close factoring down payment and closing costs is $20,350 plus prepaids.   FHA is not credit score sensitive (yet) and buyers who are truly FHA approved have done so via a “fully documented” loan.   They’re pretty darn serious!

When you compare 20% down conforming to the 3% minimum down required for FHA; it’s the difference of having approx. $100k for your down payment and closing costs to having a quarter of that.   Some folks have the income (they still have to qualify with FHA) but they’re shy on that kind of savings.   Maybe it’s their first house or perhaps their savings is tied into their retirement or children’s college fund.   These are buyers you don’t want to rule out.

FHA Jumbos allow buyers to have a loan amount of $567,500 in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties with as little as 3% down payment (some lenders require 5% down).    With second mortgage’s evaporating and fewer “piggy back” options available, buyers who have less than 20% down where their loan amount will be over $417,000 will be considering FHA as an option.    For example, sales price of $625,000 with 10% down (loan amount $562,500) would be an excellent FHA JUMBO candidate…only offering cash or conforming products will pretty much limit your buyers to those with 20% down.   FHA buyers do not have to be minimum down…they can be less than 20% down or have a credit score or perhaps one of the borrowers has a mid score of 679.

I’ve written before about why Sellers should consider FHA…however with the temporary expanded loan amounts…now it’s even more compelling.   

Fannie Mae's Jumbo-Conforming Loan Guidelines

I started this post with the plans of announcing the pricing for the Jumbo-Conforming mortgages…however, I just don’t have enough facts to do so yet. It looks like Fannie Mae’s add to rate is 0.25%…however, lenders will most likely have their own add to rate as well. (So far, I’ve only seen a jumbo-conforming rate from one lender which was in the high 6 range for a 30 year). As soon as I have more data, I’ll let you know.

Here is some basic information from Fannie Mae regarding temporary Jumbo-Conforming mortgages (loan amounts from $417,001 – $567,500 for King, Pierce Snohomish Counties):

Purchase Mortgages/Principal Residence
Fixed Rate: Max LTV/CLTV 90%. Minimum Mid-Score LTV>80%: 700 / LTV = or <80%: 660.
ARMs: Max LTV/CLTV 80%. Minimum Mid-Score: 660%

Limited Cash Out Refi (Limited cash out means you can recieve a maximum of $2000 cash back at closing).
Fixed/ARMs: Max LTV 75%/Max CLTV 95%. Minimum Mid-Score: 660
Cash out refinances are not eligible (this includes paying off a second mortgage with a refinance, which is considered “cash out”). Update 4/7/2008: Fannie Mae just issued clarification on this guideline: they will now treat paying off a purchase money second as a limited cash out refinance.

*Full doc only.
*2 months reserves (PITI) are required for primary residence.
*45% maximum DTI ratio.
*ARMS are qualified on the fully amortized PITI at the higher of the note rate or fully indexed rate.
*Limited to four financed properties, including the borrower’s principal residence.

Remember, this coach turns back into a pumpkin on December 31, 2008.

Lenders will start pricing “jumbo conforming” anytime…stay tuned!

Will St. Patty's Day Bring Us Luck with Conforming Loan Limits?

By mid-March, HUD is required to publish what they determine to be median home prices which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be using for what the temporary loan limits will be (125% of the median home price). I’m hopeful that Fannie, Freddie and banks are working dilingently NOW on what the guidelines and pricing will be for this new bracket of loans priced from $417,001 to the new temporary limit and that we’re not waiting after the loan limits are announced for lenders to figure out how they’re going to deal with the new loans.

I’m currently working with a couple who are looking at homes priced around $600,000. They could be perfect candidates for the new conforming loan limit. With 20% down, they will have a loan amount of $480,000. Here are a few scenarios I shared with them:

Structuring the mortgage as a jumbo compared to with a conforming first and second mortgage (heloc):


I am really favoring the 10 year ARM right now. Ten years is a heck of long time. Picture you and your life 10 years ago…and rhondawitt 1try to imagine your life 10 years from now. Mortgage planning is about selecting the right product that suits your long and short term financial pictures. If you select a 30 year fixed mortgage, yet you keep the home for less than 10 years, you may be losing hundreds of dollars every month. With that said, you cannot put a value on “peace of mind”. If you are going to lose sleep at night because you have an adjustable rate mortgage (that is fixed for ten years) then don’t do it. Go for the long term mortgage. Personally, I would lose sleep over not having the long term savings. It is a choice…YOUR choice. BTW…the photo of me might be closer to 13-14 years ago! 😉

Of course this couple could wait and see what the new loan limits may be…this plan has potential to backfire however. I’m hearing that the add to rate may be anywhere from 0.25% to 1.000% to rate for loans over $417,000. Worse case, the new conforming loan limit would still have rates where our jumbo rates currently are. Plus, we still don’t know what the new limits are. It’s highly speculated that our area will see the limit just shy of $500,000 (speculated being the key word). However if the add to rate is significant enough, then the new limit will make little difference to our current “jumbo” rates.

With the Fed meeting on March 18, 2008 and an anticipated 0.50% rate cut in the works, mortgage rates may very well be higher by that time . The Fed cutting rates typically causes mortgage bonds to react for the worse as it is an inflationary sign. It’s great for your HELOC, not so for your unlocked mortgage rate.

My advise is for my clients to proceed with an approval now. If the new conforming rate proves to be a better scenario for them while we’re in transaction, it’s easy for us to change plans (as long as we’re more than a week from closing).