New York Times

Newton Real Estate and New Mortgage Guidelines


Newton, MA.

The following article from the WSJ explains the new federal loan limits in MA.   Could we see negative implications regarding the real estate market?  Yes – high-priced communities such as Newton will suffer when the federal government lowers the loan limits they will guarantee to $523,000.00  While most jumbo loans in Newton are not currentlyFHA backed it may have a psychological effect on secondary mortgage lenders….stay tuned

The federal government is readying its first retreat from the mortgage market, with the size of loans eligible for government backing set to decline in October.

As an emergency measure three years ago, Congress raised to as high as $729,750 the maximum loan amount that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal agencies could guarantee.

That made it easier—and cheaper—for borrowers in pricey housing markets to obtain mortgages, because the government guarantees that investors receive payments on those mortgages even if homeowners default.

Now those limits are set to decline modestly in hundreds of counties across the U.S. as the government attempts to reduce its outsized footprint in the mortgage market and create room for private investors to compete. Government-related entities stand behind more than nine of 10 new mortgages, and taxpayers have sunk $138 billion into Fannie and Freddie, underscoring the eagerness to dial down the government’s share.

The new limits will vary widely by location, but will drop to $625,500 in top-tier markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Even though the new limits won’t take effect until Oct. 1, some lenders are already warning borrowers that they will stop accepting applications for loans that exceed the new limits much sooner, to ensure the loans are funded before the cutoff date.

Industry groups are making the case on Capitol Hill that reducing current limits in some of the largest markets is “the exact wrong way to go,” said Jerry Howard, president of the National Association of Home Builders. But Obama administration officials say the limits should fall as scheduled, and Republican lawmakers have introduced measures to shrink the Federal Housing Administration’s reach more aggressively.

Had the lower limits been in place last year, Fannie and Freddie would have backed 50,000 fewer loans, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The bulk of the affected loans —about 60%—are in California, with another 20% in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Parts of the country with less expensive homes also would be affected; their limits are scheduled to fall as low as $417,000 for Fannie and Freddie loans and as low as $271,050 for FHA loans.

Limits for Fannie and Freddie-eligible mortgages will fall in 250 counties, and FHA limits will drop in about 600 counties. While that is a fraction of the nation’s 3,000 counties, economists at the National Association of Home Builders say those densely populated areas account for 27% and 59% of the nation’s housing stock, respectively.

The possibility of lower loan limits is causing considerable anxiety in coastal California and other high-end housing markets that will serve as test cases for how the government’s withdrawal from housing will affect the market and local economies.

Homeowners whose mortgages are too big to qualify for a government-backed mortgage must seek a so-called jumbo loan, which often carry higher interest rates as well as larger down-payment requirements, sometimes more than 20%.

“Sellers are going to have to reduce their prices if borrowing costs rise,” said Scott Sheldon, a loan officer with First Cal Mortgage in Petaluma, Calif.

One of Mr. Sheldon’s clients, Ed Barr, has been pre-approved for a $662,000 loan backed by the FHA, the largest mortgage the agency can insure in Sonoma County, Calif. He is racing to close a sale before the limit drops to $520,950.

Mr. Barr, who owns a wine-making machinery company, said he has excellent credit but a recent divorce left him with little cash for such a purchase. “I don’t have any other alternative,” the 48-year-old said. Without the loan backed by the FHA, which allows for down payments as low as 3.5%, “the sale won’t happen.”

Scaling back loan limits underscores a broader challenge facing the government: It wants more private players to hold mortgage risk, but it doesn’t want to destabilize fragile housing markets.

Craig Van Sant is looking to pay $500,000 for a home with a $20,000 down payment in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Once the FHA limit drops to $335,000, he would need to more than double his down payment. The only upside, he said, is that “home values slide even more, allowing us to buy more house, if we can pull together all the cash.”

Investors and some academics say the government needs to shrink its footprint if private markets are to re-emerge, and that big loans for pricey homes are a reasonable place to start. “Credit unions, small banks, and hedge funds are all eager to buy these loans,” said Brian Brady, a mortgage banker at World Wide Credit Corp. in San Diego.

For now, interest rates for jumbo loans are relatively low, which could cushion the impact of changing loan limits. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate jumbos averaged 5.07% last week, compared with 4.62% on government-backed loans, according to financial publisher HSH Associates. The jumbo rates are near the lowest mark since HSH began its count in 1986, and the spread is the lowest since mortgage markets seized up four years ago.

But rates are only part of the equation. Because jumbos aren’t being securitized, banks must keep them on their balance sheets and are generally requiring larger down payments and stringent income qualifications.”It’ll be a real test of private lenders and their ability to fill the void,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

Write to Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

5 Reasons You Should Sell Your House Today!


Great Post from KCM Crew I’d like to share….5 Reasons You Should Sell Your House TODAY!Selling your house in today’s market can be extremely difficult. It is for that reason that every seller should take advantage of each and every opportunity that appears. Each fall, such an opportunity presents itself. This fall, that opportunity may be just too good to pass up.

Below are five reasons you should consider when pricing your house to sell in the next 90 days. Meet with your real estate agent and mortgage professional today and see whether it is the right move for you and your family.

1. Entering this time of year, the buyers are more serious.

We all realize that buyers are not quick to pull the trigger on the purchase of a home today. There is no sense of urgency with the supply of eligible properties at all time highs. However, at this time of year, the ‘lookers’ are at the stores doing their holiday shopping. The home buyers left in the market are serious and are more apt to make a purchasing decision. Less showings – but to more motivated purchasers.

2. If you are moving up, you can save thousands.

The Chicago Tribune stated in an article last week that sellers who want to ‘trade up’ should act now:

It could be a bigger house, different neighborhood or a better school district, but it comes with a higher price tag. Do the math; this might be the right time.

A home that was once worth $300,000 may now be worth $240,000 in a market where prices have fallen 20 percent. Wow, you think, the seller is taking a bath. But that seller may also be a prospective buyer who wants a house that once was valued at $400,000. With an equivalent market drop and a realistic listing price, that house may now sell for $320,000. So, in effect, the person is losing $60,000 on the sale of one home but coming out ahead $20,000 on the purchase of another.

Keep in mind the spread may be even greater. There’s a smaller pool of potential buyers for more expensive homes, so sellers may be more willing to cut their price to get a deal done.

3. Interest rates just fell again – to 4.19%.

Professor Karl E. Case, the founder of the Case Shiller Pricing Index in an article in theNew York Times last month actually did the math for us:

Four years ago, the monthly payment on a $300,000 house with 20 percent down and a mortgage rate of about 6.6 percent was $1,533. Today that $300,000 house would sell for $213,000 and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 20 percent down would carry a rate of about 4.2 percent and a monthly payment of $833 … housing has perhaps never been a better bargain.

4. You beat the rush of inventory that is coming next year.

Every year there is an increase of inventory which comes to market from January through April as homeowners put their houses up for sale in preparation for the spring market. As an example, here is the number of listings available for sale in each of those months in 2010.

  • January – 3,277,000
  • February – 3,531,000
  • March – 3,626,000
  • April – 4,029,000

You won’t have to worry about this increasing competition if you sell now.

5. You have less ‘discounted’ inventory with which to compete.

This year, sellers of non-distressed properties have been given an early holiday present. With banks declaring a suspension on the sale of many distressed properties (foreclosures), there has been a large supply of discounted properties removed from competition. No one knows how long this self imposed moratorium will last. However, while it does, every homeowner has a better chance of selling their property.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to sell in the near future, there may not be a more opportune time than this fall. Serious buyers, great move-up deals and less competition from foreclosures creates the perfect selling situation. Don’t miss it!