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New FHA, VA and Conventional Mortgage Loan Limits

As of October 1, 2011 new and lower mortgage loan limits will be here unless Congress unites and stops the planned changes. Since Congress unites over very few things borrowers are likely to find bright and new loan limits as of Oct. 1st.

Note: This material is now out of date. Please go to: FHA Loan Limits Rise, Conventional & VA Mortgage Limits Stick.

Before looking at the numbers let’s make three quick points:

First, the October 1st loan limits will continue only until December 31, 2011. As of January 1, 2012 it’s possible that we could have new loan limits or they might stay the same. At this moment there’s a political fight in Washington brewing over the issue.

Second, most borrowers need far less than the mortgage loan limits for FHA, VA and conventional mortgages. For instance, in a low cost area the maximum conventional loan amount will be $417,000. According to the National Association of Realtors the typical home sold for just $174,000 in July 2011.

Third, the new is the same as the old. The limits which started October 1, 2011 are the same limits we had in place before July 1, 2007.

How Mortgage Limits Vary

There are several types of mortgage loan limits. Generally, most borrowers need to look at the limits for conventional, FHA and VA loans to see how much can be financed with the most-widely originated loans.

If you borrow at or below the conventional loan limit for non-government mortgages, you would have what is generally known as a “conforming” loan. If the amount borrowed is above the conventional loan limit, you would have a “jumbo” loan and face a higher rate because larger loans imply more risk to investors, the folks who buy mortgages.

As well, a “conventional” mortgage can be seen as loans originated from the private sector. FHA and VA mortgages are originated in the private sector but insured through government programs. For specifics, look at FHA and VA mortgage requirements.

Conventional Loans

As of October 1, 2011 the conventional loan limits depend on 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 located in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S Virgin Islands.

In general terms, the October 2011 loan limits for a single-family home range from $417,000 to $625,500 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.


Minimum/Maximum Original Loan Amount Loan Amount

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

Maximum Loan Amount,
General Areas
Maximum Loan Amount,
High Cost Area1
Minimum Loan Amount,
General Area
Maximum Loan Amount,
High Cost Area1
Source: Freddie Mac. 1 These are the maximum potential loan limits for designated high-cost areas. Actual loan limits are established for each county (or equivalent) and the loan limits for specific high-cost areas may be lower. The original principal balance of a mortgage must not exceed the maximum loan limit for the specific area in which the mortgaged premises is located. For specific loan limits for each high-cost area, as released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, press here.

VA Loans

After October 1, 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will use the same loan limits as before. There are no changes. As the VA explains:

“The maximum guaranty for VA guaranteed loans closed October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 will remain unchanged. The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 provided a temporary increase in VA loan limits for loans closed January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011. Because of this legislation, VA loan limits will remain the same for the remainder of the calendar year. Please note that VA does not have a maximum loan amount. Loan limit refers to the maximum loan a lender could make and still receive a 25% guaranty from VA, assuming the veteran has full entitlement.

Official loan limits for specific areas range from $417,000 to as much as $1,094,625. To find the VA loan limit for a given area, please use the chart below:

2011 VA County Loan Limits for High-Cost Counties

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 Loans

The FHA loan 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 in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands.

As of October 1, 2011 the FHA 203(b) loan limits look like this:

FHA 203(b) Loan Limits After
October 1, 2011
Property Size Low Cost “Floor” High Cost “Ceiling” Alaska, Hawaii, Guam & Virgin Islands
One Unit $271,050   $625,500    $938,250
Two Unit $347,000   $800,775 $1,201,150
Three Unit $419,425   $967,950 $1,451,925
 Four Unit $521,250 $1,202,925 $1,804,375
Source: HUD, FHA

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 Page

Also, HUD has a list of Areas at Ceilings and Above and Areas Between Floor and Ceiling.

FHA-Insured Reverse Mortgages

The loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages (also known as home equity conversion mortgages or HECMs) will remain at $625,500. HUD, in 2010, introduced the HECM Saver program as an alternative to its standard HECM plan. The difference? The Saver program has an up-front insurance fee which is less than the cost of take-out food for four but the amount you can borrow against equity has been reduced. For specifics, speak with attorneys who specialize in elder law and fee-only financial planners.

A Brief History

Loan limits used to be set annually and the same limit applied to all states and all counties in the lower 48 states. The limits were 50 percent higher outside the countinental U.S.

The real estate marketplace began withdrawing from the highs seen in April 2007 and price reductions continued into 2008. Given lower home values, conventional loan limits were supposed to be reduced for 2009. At this point the government stepped in and changed the rules with the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 (ESA) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). These laws gave us the loan limit system we have in place today.

Until September 30, 2011, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act extended the maximum loan limits first established in 2008.

A CAUTION: Because maximum loan limits can change at anytime, visitors to OurBroker.com are advised to speak with local real estate brokers and lenders BEFORE entering the real estate marketplace for the latest mortgage information.

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