Shiney New and Temporary Conforming Limits…Not So Fast!

I feverishly posted the new FHA and conforming loan limits for Washington State.  It was pretty darn exciting since many of us in the industry were hearing whisper figures of $493k or so and voila, our new FHA and conforming limit for a single family dwelling is $567,500 for King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.  This could be a nice bump through the end of this year.

The word is out!  Many Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Tacoma area homeowners are VERY interested and want to take advantage of "conforming rates" now.   Not so fast….sorry.  (Hey…I’m really hoping that on Monday, I’m eating my words…the proof is in the pudding).   So far all that’s happened is that the loan limits have been announced.   This whole process needs to trickle from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and through all the wholesale lenders before those of us on "the streets" can offer you any benefits.   

Be prepared.  I fully expect an "add to rate" on loans from $417,000 – $567,500 (or what ever your area conforming limit is).   This will be to compensate Freddie/Fannie for the additional volumes and risk they are taking on.   The big question is: how much will it be?  My best guess is anywhere from 0.25% to 1.00% to what you currently see for conforming.   

"WHAT?" You say… "You’re telling me that you just quoted 6.00% for conforming today…and 7.00% for JUMBO…yet the new conforming rate for loans over $417,000 may still be 7.00% if I were locking today?"

Yes…that’s what I’m saying.  Again, PURE speculation on my part.

The "new conforming limit" goes back to July of 2007.  It’s retroactive for jumbo mortgages still not bought on Wall Street clogging credit lines.   I think that’s where we may see the most action:  rescuing the Thornburg Mortgages of the world (or at least Wall Street).  This from Bloomberg:

Thornburg specialized in so-called jumbo mortgages of more than $417,000, which typically were used to buy more expensive homes. Until recently, such loans were too big to qualify for purchase by government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae. Trading for such “non-conforming loans has come to a standstill, cutting off a source of funds for mortgage companies and pushing down the value of their holdings. More than 100 halted operations or sought buyers last year.

The company’s demise would reduce liquidity even more, said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, a mortgage- market research firm based in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.

No one has had anything bad to say about Thornburg; they have served the good-quality, high end of the market,” Gumbinger said. “It’s been a good, well-run business that is taking a beating because of market conditions.”

Thornburg is not a part of the subprime melt down they are being sucked into.  My best guess is that due to the volume and risk of loans that Fannie and Freddie will take on through the end of this year, consumers will see a benefit in pricing when the credit lines have been relieved.   

This may not be the band-aid we’re hoping for.  I don’t want to be a "bummer"…I do want to be practical. 

My best advise to those in the "new (temporary) conforming market" is to not wait for the new limits to be in effect.  Check with your Mortgage Professional to see if they can switch your program to "new conforming" IF it’s a better rate/scenario for you if you’ve all ready began the process under the current guidelines.  This is something that I can offer and I would assume most Mortgage Professionals are able to as well.

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