Archives for February 2009

Revised FHA Loan Limits for 2009

King, Pierce and Snohmish Counties

1 Unit – $567,500

2 Unit – $726,500

3 Unit – $878,150

4 Unit – $1,091,350

San Juan County

1 Unit – $593,750

2 Unit – $760,100

3 Unit – $918,800

4 Unit – $1,141,850

Kitsap County

1 Unit – $475,000

2 Unit – $608,100

3 Unit – $733,050

4 Unit – $913,050

Clark and Skamania Counties

1 Unit – $418,750

2 Unit – $536,050

3 Unit – $648,000

4 Unit – $805,300

Jefferson County

1 Unit – $437,500

2 Unit – $560,050

3 Unit – $677,000

4 Unit – $841,350

Clallam County

1 Unit – $383,750

2 Unit – $491,250

3 Unit – $593,800

4 Unit – $738,000

Island County

1 Unit – $381,250

2 Unit – $488,050

3 Unit – $589,950

4 Unit – $733,150

Whatcom County

1 Unit – $375,000

2 Unit – $480,050

3 Unit – $580,300

4 Unit – $721,150

Skagit County

1 Unit – $373,750

2 Unit – $478,450

3 Unit – $578,350

4 Unit – $718,750

Thurston County

1 Unit – $361,250

2 Unit – $462,450

3 Unit – $559,000

4 Unit – $694,700

Mason County

1 Unit – $310,000

2 Unit – $396,850

3 Unit – $479,700

4 Unit – $596,150

Kittitas County

1 Unit – $328,750

2 Unit – $420,850

3 Unit – $508,700

4 Unit – $632,200

Benton, Franklin Counties

1 Unit – $275,000

2 Unit – $352,050

3 Unit – $425,550

4 Unit – $528,850

No FHA loan limit revisions to the following Washington State counties:

Chelan and Douglas Counties

1 Unit – $342,700

2 Unit – $438,700

3 Unit – $530,300

4 Unit – $659,050

Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman and Yakima Counties:

1 Unit – $271,050

2 Unit – $347,000

3 Unit – $419,425

4 Unit – $529,250

Revised 2009 Conforming Loan Limits for Washington State

Conforming loan limits are tiered with some areas qualifying as "high cost" and provided a second level before being considered a "jumbo" loan.  Today, FHFA announced the new limits aka "Conforming High Balance" or "Agency Jumbo".

King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties

$567,500 – 1 Unit

$726,500 – 2 Unit

$878,150 – 3 Unit

$1,091,350 – 4 Unit

Jefferson County

$437,500 – 1 Unit

$560,500 – 2 Unit

$677,000  – 3 Unit

$841,350 – 4 Unit

Kitsap County

$475,000 – 1 Unit

$608,100 – 2 Unit

$735,050 – 3 Unit

$913,450 – 4 Unit

San Juan County

$593,750 – 1 Unit

$760,100 – 2 Unit

$918,800 – 3 Unit

$1,141,850 – 4 Unit

Skamania and Clark Counties

$418,750 – 1 Unit

$536,050 – 2 Unit

$648,000 – 3 Unit

$805,300 – 4 Unit

Conforming loan limits (true) and for all other Washington counties not listed above:

$417,000 – 1 Unit

$533,850 – 2 Unit

$645,300 – 3 Unit

$801,950 – 4 Unit



Upside down in your home with good credit? March 4, 2009 may be an important date for you.

Just received this email, which I'm sure echos the thoughts of many home owners:

"Been meaning to contact you to get your take on the recent wholesale changes that are coming hard and fast at the mortgage bankers out there and, of course, see if there can be any benefit to a re-fi given the new lending "rules" (for lack of a better term). We're horribly upside-down on our current loan balance vs. current home value, so we don't know what can happen for us, if anything. But if there's a way to get that rate down and send out less each month. we're listening! What do you think about all this?"

Last week, President Obama announced his plans to help stimulate the economy and help provide stability with America's housing.  With the Homeowner Affordibility and Stability Plan, home owners who are "credit worthy" may be able to refinance their home up to 105% loan to value

On March 4, 2009, more details are suppose to be announced.  Here's what we understand so far:

  • The program is limited to loans held or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • First mortgage may not be more than 105% of the value of the property. 

  • Borrowers with a second mortgage may still be able to refinance if the second mortgage lien holder is willing to remain in second lien position and if the borrower still qualifies.

  • The program will offer 30 year or 15 year fixed interest rates based on market rates.

  • The program only applies to the home you live in.  It does not apply towards vacation or second homes or investment properties.

According the the Treasury, this program will not be available until March 4, 2009.  Lenders will become even more buried with refinance business once this happens.  It is to your advantage to be prepared.  By gathering the following information:

  • 2008 W2s (if self employed or paid commission, 2 years of complete tax returns)
  • Most recent paystubs covering 30 days of income.
  • Most recent mortgage statements.

  • Information on current monthly debts including amount paid monthly and amount owed.

  • Most recent bank statements/asset accounts (all pages).

If your home is located in Washington State, you can apply on line now by clicking the link under my photo.  However, I don't anticipate having more details until March 4, 2009.

More to follow.

A Sunday’s Drive to Seattle’s Georgetown

Just south of downtown Seattle, you'll find historic Georgetown.  My husband and I P2080039P2080007decided to check it out a few weekends ago in search of authentic Italian style pizza.  The restaurant we wanted to go to was closed (we'll go definitely go back and give you a full report) but we're not disappointed.

Georgetown was settled in 1851 and became it's own city from 1904-1910; fighting annexation into Seattle to avoid prohibition.  This is the home of the old Rainier Brewery, reported to once be the sixth largest brewery in the world.  Portions of the brewery remain and are office and space for artists.  Airport Way  and  the side streets are lined with shops and restaurants.   We wound up at Smarty Pants for "beer, booze and grub".  Actually we opted for a very spicy Bloody Mary and brunch.  I had a breakfast burrito and my husband could not resist The Trouble Maker.  It's a great spot and I look forward to checking out other restaurants in this neighborhood. 

Georgetown is also home to Hat n' Boots which is located at Oxbow Park P2080053 between the 6400 block of Carleton Avenue South and Corson Avenue South. 

Speaking of Corson…I understand The Corson Building is a new restuarant featuring a chef who was featured as one of Food and Wine's top 10 new chef's of 2007, Matt Dillion.  Reservations required…well in advance.

Want to know more about Georgetown?  Check out these links:

Blogging Georgetown

The Georgetown Neighborhood

More of My Georgetown Photos on Flickr

Got Stimulus?

Earlier this week, President Obama signed H.R. 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to the tune of $787,000,000,000. This is roughly the same as giving every American man, woman and child $2,500.  President Obama announced that we can see how the funds are being spent by visiting

Here are a few items designed to help the housing markets:

Loan Limits to be Reversed 2008.  At the end of 2008, the conforming jumbo limits were replaced with conforming high balance.  In the Seattle area, this meant that the fine line between a jumbo and conforming mortgage went from $567,500 to $506,000 for a single family dwelling.  Watch for Fannie, Freddie and FHA to implement the higher loan limits soon through December 31, 2009.

2009 Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyers. A tax credit up to $8000 is available to first time home buyers (someone who has not owned a home in the past 36 months) who close on a home between January 1, 2009 – November 30, 2009.  Unlike the 2008 plan, this tax credit does not have to be paid back.

NOTE:  If you are a qualified first time home buyer who bought a home from April 9, 2008 – December 31, 2008; you're still under the original plan with the $7,500 credit which requires you to pay it back (interest free loan).  

More to follow….much more.

Auburn, Washington Homeowner Asks: Will Obama’s Plan Help Me?

They bought their home with 10% down payment back in 2007 using two mortgages which only required interest only payments for the first 10 years.  They opted for this route because they wanted to buy this home before their other property sold (buying simultaneous)…the other property never sold and is now a rental.  This morning I received an email asking:

"Please advise how the stimulus package can help me.  I would like to lower my monthly mortgage payments and not have interest only loans."

March 4, 2009 is when we are suppose to have the details on how President Obama's plan will work.  From The White House Blog:

I have both a first and a second mortgage.  Do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

As long as the amount due on the first mortgage is less than 105% of the value of the property, borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.  Your eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that has your second mortgage to remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage. 

Will refinancing lower my payments?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage with affordable payments that are sustainable for the life of the loan.  Borrowers whose mortgage interest rates are much higher than the current market rate should see an immediate reduction in their payments.  Borrowers who are paying interest only, or who have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future, may not see their current payment go down if they refinance to a fixed rate.  These borrowers, however, could save a great deal over the life of the loan….

I am not an appraiser…when I look at what's recently sold in this homeowner's neighborhood, it looks like home values are down roughly 15% from when they bought two years ago.  Appraised values are based on what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for in the past few months.  Since they put 10% down two years ago with interest only products, they are underwater on their mortgages.

The first and second mortgage combined are around the 105% loan to value…but it sounds like this will be up to who ever the mortgage servicers are for both the first and second mortgages and if the new program will be limited to true conforming limits of $417,000 or if it will include those areas that qualify for the conforming high balance limits ($506,000 for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties).  At least they have a 8 years remaining on the interest only period of the mortgage.

There are still more questions than answers at this stage.  This homeowner's investment property will not be included in this plan.

I'm hopeful that the new plan to be revealed in early March will help this family.  At this point, they cannot refinance without it.   

NAMB’s Open Letter to the President of the United States

I just read this letter from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers which, for the most part, I find spot on.  This industry is in jeopardy of ceasing to exist with the latest actions of some private mortgage insurance companies and banks.  I work for a Correspondent Lender which is treated slightly better than a classic Mortgage Broker because we have "more skin in the game"…correspondents take the credit risk for the file.  However, I do not want to see my mortgage broker brothers and sisters ran out of this industry.  Competition is good for consumers.  It helps to keep your rates and costs down.  If we wind up with just a couple mega banks for mortgages, you can bet that the consumer will suffer.

Mortgage brokers have been wrongly blamed by banks and the media either intentionally or by misuse of words ("mortgage originator" would be more correct than mortgage broker).

Here are some points from Marc Savitt's letter:

  • Mortgage brokers have never developed one single loan product or program.  However, some lenders and banks did, aided by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Wall Street. 
  • Yield Spread Premium (YSP) has been vilified when it actually pays for closing costs.  Mortgage brokers are the only originators who have to disclose what funds are being received as rebate.  Mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders and credit unions do not. 
  • Mortgage brokers are currently highly regulated.  Over the past two years, DFI has regulated mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders.  Mortgage bankers are not nearly as scrutinized in Washington State.  Consumers are probably safer working with a mortgage broker or correspondent lender that is regulated by DFI.

If you have ever had a mortgage and a mortgage broker or correspondent lender help you–please contact your elected officials in "the other Washington" and let them know.   YOU might save a crucial industry at a critical time.


Presidents Day – Happy Birthday, George!

Mortgage Master is closed today in observance of President's Day.  We will reopen for business as usual on Tuesday, February 17, 2009.