The Federal Housing Administration raised the mortgage limits to a maximum of $729,750 for 14 high-cost counties in California, as the government began providing aid to homeowners required by the recently enacted economic-stimulus package.
The upper mortgage limits also will apply to loans purchased or guaranteed by government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHA officials said.
FHA officials predicted the increases in California would aid about 33,000 individuals. The new loan limits will be in effect through the end of this year. The goal is to invigorate the market for larger mortgages, which should help push down interest rates.
Those who have applied for an FHA loan but haven't yet closed on it will be able to take advantage of the new limits. The new ceilings also will apply to people seeking to refinance into an FHA loan.
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FHA Mortgage Limits in California by County
|County Name ||Median Home Price ||FHA Limit |
|Alameda County ||$995,000 ||$729,750 |
|Alpine County ||438,000 ||547,500 |
|Amador County ||355,000 ||443,750 |
|Butte County ||320,000 ||400,000 |
|Calaveras County ||370,000 ||462,500 |
|Colusa County ||318,000 ||397,500 |
|Contra Costa County ||995,000 ||729,750 |
|Del Norte County ||249,000 ||311,250 |
|El Dorado County ||464,000 ||580,000 |
|Fresno County ||305,000 ||381,250 |
|Glenn County ||230,000 ||287,500 |
|Humboldt County ||315,000 ||393,750 |
|Imperial County ||260,000 ||325,000 |
|Inyo County ||350,000 ||437,500 |
|Kern County ||295,000 ||368,750 |
|Kings County ||260,000 ||325,000 |
|Lake County ||321,000 ||401,250 |
|Lassen County ||200,000 ||271,050 |
|Los Angeles County ||710,000 ||729,750 |
|Madera County ||340,000 ||425,000 |
|Marin County ||995,000 ||729,750 |
|Mariposa County ||330,000 ||412,500 |
|Mendocino County ||410,000 ||512,500 |
|Merced County ||378,000 ||472,500 |
|Modoc County ||125,000 ||271,050 |
|Mono County ||370,000 ||462,500 |
|Monterey County ||599,000 ||729,750 |
|Napa County ||615,000 ||729,750 |
|Nevada County ||450,000 ||562,500 |
|Orange County ||710,000 ||729,750 |
|Placer County ||464,000 ||580,000 |
|Plumas County ||328,000 ||410,000 |
|Riverside County ||400,000 ||500,000 |
|Sacramento County ||464,000 ||580,000 |
|San Benito County ||790,000 ||729,750 |
|San Bernardino County ||400,000 ||500,000 |
|San Diego County ||558,000 ||697,500 |
|San Francisco County ||995,000 ||729,750 |
|San Joaquin County ||391,000 ||488,750 |
|San Luis Obispo County ||550,000 ||687,500 |
|San Mateo County ||995,000 ||729,750 |
|Santa Barbara County ||615,000 ||729,750 |
|Santa Clara County ||790,000 ||72,9750 |
|Santa Cruz County ||719,000 ||729,750 |
|Shasta County ||339,000 ||423,750 |
|Sierra County ||228,000 ||285,000 |
|Siskiyou County ||235,000 ||293,750 |
|Solano County ||446,000 ||557,500 |
|Sonoma County ||530,000 ||662,500 |
|Stanislaus County ||339,000 ||423,750 |
|Sutter County ||340,000 ||425,000 |
|Tehama County ||250,000 ||312,500 |
|Trinity County ||200,000 ||271,050 |
|Tulare County ||260,000 ||325,000 |
|Tuolumne County ||350,000 ||437,500 |
|Ventura County ||599,000 ||729,750 |
|Yolo County ||464,000 ||580,000 |
|Yuba County ||340,000 ||425,000 |
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FHA Single Family Mortgage Insurance Program
FHA's mortgage insurance programs help low and moderate income families become homeowners by lowering some of the costs of their mortgage loans. FHA mortgage insurance also encourages mortgage companies to make loans to otherwise creditworthy borrowers and projects that might not be able to meet conventional underwriting requirements, by protecting the mortgage company against loan default on mortgages for properties that meet certain minimum requirements--including manufactured homes, single-family and multifamily properties, and some health-related facilities.
Section 203(b) is the centerpiece of FHA's single family insurance programs. It is the successor of the program that helped save homeowners from default in the 1930s, that helped open the suburbs for returning veterans in the 1940s and 1950s, and that helped shape the modern mortgage finance system. Today, FHA One to Four Family Mortgage Insurance is still an important tool through which the Federal Government expands home ownership opportunities for first time homebuyers and other borrowers who would not otherwise qualify for conventional loans on affordable terms, as well as for those who live in under served areas where mortgages may be harder to get. In 1997, FHA insured more than 790,000 homes, valued at almost $60 billion, under this program. FHA currently insures a total of about 7 million loans valued at nearly $400 billion. These obligations are protected by FHA's Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, which is sustained entirely by borrower premiums.
Section 203(b) has several important features:
Downpayment requirements can be low. In contrast to conventional mortgage products, which frequently require down payments of 10 percent or more of the purchase price of the home, single family mortgages insured by FHA under Section 203(b) make it possible to reduce down payments to as little as 3 percent. This is because FHA insurance allows borrowers to finance approximately 97 percent of the value of their home purchase through their mortgage, in some cases.
Many closing costs can be financed. With most conventional loans, the borrower must pay, at the time of purchase, closing costs (the many fees and charges associated with buying a home) equivalent to 2-3 percent of the price of the home. This program allows the borrower to finance many of these charges, thus reducing the up front cost of buying a home. FHA mortgage insurance is not free: borrowers pay an up front insurance premium (which may be financed) at the time of purchase, as well as monthly premiums that are not financed, but instead are added to the regular mortgage payment.
Some fees are limited. FHA rules impose limits on some of the fees that mortgage companies may charge in making a loan. For example, the loan origination fee charged by the mortgage company for the administrative cost of processing the loan may not exceed one percent of the amount of the mortgage.
HUD sets limits on the amount that may be insured. To make sure that its programs serve low and moderate income people, FHA sets limits on the dollar value of the mortgage loan.
Down Payment Gifts for FHA Loans
The down payment for an FHA mortgage can be 100% gift funds. This is one of the key benefits to the FHA program.
Verification of the source of gift money is not required. However, it is necessary that the gift funds be deposited in the borrower's bank or savings account, or in an escrow account, prior to underwriting approval. Proof of deposit is required.
Gift donors are restricted primarily to a relative of the borrower. They can also be certain organizations, such as a labor union or charitable organization. Contact your local branch for complete information.
What Are Closing Costs?
There may be closing costs customary or unique to a certain locality, but closing costs are usually made up of the following:
* Attorney's or escrow fees (yours and your lender's if applicable)
* Property taxes (to cover tax period to date)
* Interest (paid from date of closing to 30 days before first monthly payment)
* Loan origination fee (covers lender's administrative costs)
* Recording fees
* Survey fee
* First premium of mortgage insurance (if applicable)
* Title insurance (yours and your lender's)
* Loan discount points
* First payment to escrow account for future real estate taxes and insurance
* Paid receipt for homeowner's insurance policy (and fire and flood insurance if applicable)
* Any documentation preparation fees
Streamline Refinancing for FHA Mortgages
FHA has permitted streamline refinances on insured mortgages since the early 1980's. The word “streamline” refers only to the amount of documentation and underwriting that needs to be performed by the mortgage company, and does not mean that there are no costs involved in the transaction.
The basic requirements of a streamline refinance are:
* The mortgage to be refinanced must already be FHA insured.
* The mortgage to be refinanced should be current (not delinquent).
* The refinance is to result in a lowering of the borrower's monthly principal and interest payments.
* No cash may be taken out on mortgages refinanced using the streamline refinance process.
Companies may offer streamline refinances in several ways. Some companies offer "no cost" refinances (actually, no out of pocket expenses to the borrower) by charging a higher rate of interest on the new loan than if the borrower financed or paid the closing costs in cash. From this premium, the company pays any closing costs that are incurred on the transaction.
Companies may offer streamline refinances and include the closing costs into the new mortgage amount. This can only be done if there is sufficient equity in the property, as determined by an appraisal. Streamline refinances can also be done without appraisals, but the new loan amount cannot exceed what is currently owed, i.e., closing costs may not be added to the new mortgage with those costs either paid in cash or through the premium rate as described above. Investment properties (properties in which the borrower does not reside in as his or her principal residence) may only be refinanced without an appraisal and, thus, closing costs may not be included in the new mortgage amount.