2017 Mortgage Loan Limits — With Charts

2017 Mortgage Loan LimitsFor the first time in 10 years mortgage loan limits will increase, a step that will help borrowers and sellers in high-cost areas nationwide. The increase is not large — $424,100 in 2017 for most single-family homes versus $417,000 in 2016 — but it’s a step which many in the real estate industry welcome.

Why has this happened? According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), average home prices are now “roughly 1.7 percent above the value for the third quarter of 2007, and thus the baseline loan limit will increase by that percentage.”

That’s not a big increase, and certainly it’s not a big increase over the course of a decade, but it’s surely a step in the right direction.

Conforming Mortgage Loan Limits

The 2017 conforming loan limits vary according to the county where you’re located. Instead of one national mortgage limit, loan limits depend on; one, whether the property is in a general or high cost area; two, whether the property is within the lower 48 states; and, three, whether the property is located in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S Virgin Islands.

In general terms, the 2017 loan limits for a single-family home range from $424,100 to $636,150 in the 48 continental states. Once you know the loan limit for a single-family home in a specific area you can then see the limits for owner-occupied homes with two to four units.

2017 Conforming Loan Limits

Property Units

Minimum/Maximum Original Loan Amounts

Properties in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S Virgin Islands

Maximum Loan Amount,
General Areas
Maximum Loan Amount,
High Cost Area
Minimum Loan Amount,
General Area
Maximum Loan Amount,
High Cost Area
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A caution: As Freddie Mac points out, “actual loan limits for certain high-costs areas, as determined by FHFA, may be lower than the maximum original loan amounts identified above.”

Translation: Always check with lenders for area loan limits.

VA Loan Limits

Unlike Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the FHA, lenders are allowed to lend as much as they like to qualified veterans. In practice this means four times the actual VA loan guarantee (insurance) provided to mortgage lenders. As the VA explains, it “does not set a cap on how much you can borrow to finance your home. However, there are limits on the amount of liability VA can assume, which usually affects the amount of money an institution will lend you. The loan limits are the amount a qualified Veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a downpayment. These loan limits vary by county, since the value of a house depends in part on its location.”

Generally, for 2017 the effective VA loan limits by county are the same as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Some important points about financing for vets, active-duty personnel, and members of the National Guard and Reserve:

  • Qualified individuals can purchase homes with one to four units provided that they live in one unit. The veteran must certify as to occupancy.
  • In the case of an active-duty veteran who cannot occupy because of his or her status as an active duty member of the armed forces, occupancy by the spouse can satisfy the occupancy requirement.
  • Individuals on active duty have strong protections preventing foreclosure under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

FHA Loan Limits

The FHA mortgage insurance program has loan limits for owner-occupied homes under its 203(b) program, the most-common FHA option. The FHA loan limit varies according to whether you live in a typical real estate market, a “high cost” market or reside in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands.

The FHA low-cost loan limit is equal to 65 percent of the national conforming loan limit.. The FHA national high-cost limit is equal to 150 percent of the national conforming limit. “Mortgage limits for the special exception areas of Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Guam (GU) and the Virgin Islands (VI) are adjusted by FHA to account for higher costs of construction,” says HUD.

For 2017 the FHA 203(b) forward loan limits look like this:

2017 FHA 203(b) Loan Limits

Property Units Low Cost “Floor” High Cost “Ceiling” Alaska, Hawaii, Guam & Virgin Islands
One $275,665 $636,150 $721,050
Two $352,950 $814,500 $923,050
Three $426,625 $984,525 $1,115,800
Four $530,150 $1,223,475 $1,386,650
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To qualify for the FHA loans above, at least one unit must be owner occupied.

HUD has an online database which shows the latest FHA loan limits by state and county. The system can be reached by going to the FHA loan limits database.

FHA-Insured Reverse Mortgages

The national loan limit for FHA-insured reverse mortgages (also known as home equity conversion mortgages or HECMs) will be $636,150. The maximum also applies to Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

Jumbo Mortgages

Loan limits are used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA to limit their risk. However, mortgages for larger amounts — so-called jumbo financing — are plainly available. Oddly, in recent years jumbo loans have been priced below the rates for conforming mortgages because such mortgages are not bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and thus avoid their guarantee fees.

(Photo courtesy Bernadette Gatsby)

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