FHA Rate-Term Refi’s may be a Great Option for Higher Loan Amounts


I have been working with a couple of Seattle area home owners who either have a jumbo mortgage or have a mortgage that used to be “high balance conforming” and were caught “in the gap” when conforming high balance loan limits were rolled back to $506,000 in King County.  A jumbo (aka non-conforming) mortgage is a loan amount over $506,000 in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties for a single family dwelling.

Jumbo mortgages typically require an 80% loan to value for a refinance. This can also cause a challenge if the home has lost equity and the values are “underwater” or above an 80% loan to value. Homeowners with an existing Jumbo mortgage do not qualify for HARP 2.0 since their existing mortgage is not securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Homeowners who have a High Balance Conforming mortgage from prior to to loan limit roll back may qualify for HARP 2.0 – however, their loan limit will be restricted to the current levels ($506,000 in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties) causing them to have to bring “cash in” to close.

One client, let’s call him “Mike in Magnolia”, has a jumbo mortgage at 6.500% with a balance of $640,000 and estimates the value of his Seattle area home to be around $600,000.  He’s really like to refinance and take advantage of the current low mortgage rates.  

One option would be an FHA jumbo which would allow a loan amount up to $567,500. Based on this scenario and pricing as of 1:30pm 9/6/12, his rate would be 3.500% for a 30 year fixed (apr 4.382). This would provide him a PIMI (principal, interest and mortgage insurance) payment of $3,155.46 and cash for closing would be around $78,000. His home could appraise for as low as $585,000 and still have this scenario work at an 97.75% loan to value.

If Mike is willing to bring $142,000 to closing, he could consider a conventional refinance at $506,000. His home would need to appraise for around $600,000. Based on current rates of 3.875% for a 30 year fixed (apr 4.117); his PIMI payment would be $2640.83. His home would need to appraise for at least $600,000 for an 85% loan to value.

I’m working with another client who has a condo in downtown Seattle that has lost value. They obtained their mortgage after May 31, 2009, so it does not qualify for HARP 2.0. The condo IS on HUD’s approved list for FHA financing which will allow them to take advantage of today’s lower FHA mortgage rates with a loan to value of up to 97.75%.

FHA rate-term refinances are a “full doc” loan and will require an appraisal.  FHA mortgages may be assumable to a qualified buyer should these clients decide to sell their homes in the future.

If you’re interested in an FHA mortgage or having me review your scenario for your home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me.


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