Conventional mortgage loan limits rise
jumbo mortgage just got bigger.
As of Jan. 1, 2002, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased the single-family
mortgage limit to $300,700 from the 2001 limit of $275,000. Mortgages
above $300,700 are considered jumbo loans, which usually have
slightly higher interest rates.
The change means that house buyers will be able to
get bigger houses than before without paying the higher jumbo rate.
The change benefits shoppers who are considering buying a single-family house and taking out a mortgage in the $275,000 to $300,500
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are companies that buy
bundles of mortgages from lenders, then sell the debt packages to
investors. For this to work, Fannie and Freddie standardize mortgage-lending
practices. Loans that meet all the standards are called conforming
loans. Maximum loan size is one of the standards.
Anything above the Fannie and Freddie limit on maximum
loan sizes is considered a jumbo mortgage. Jumbo mortgages carry
higher rates than conforming loans because Fannie and Freddie won't
The two government-chartered companies adjust the
single-family mortgage limit annually, based on the change in the
average home price as calculated by the Federal Housing Finance
The change saves money for some people who buy expensive
houses. In mid-December, Bankrate.com's nationwide survey of large lenders
showed that a typical rate for a conforming, 30-year mortgage was
7.05 percent; for jumbo mortgages, the rate was 7.39 percent.
Consider how those rates would affect someone getting
a $300,000 mortgage. In 2001, that was a jumbo mortgage; in 2002 it
isn't. At 7.05 percent, the principal and interest on a $300,000
mortgage would cost $2,006 a month; at 7.39 percent it would cost
$2,075 a month, a difference of $828 a year or $24,840 over 30 years.
For families buying houses in that price range, the
nearly $25,000 in savings over 30 years is enough to buy a Viking
48-inch gas range and 36-inch oven, and a Sub-Zero side-by-side
stainless-steel refrigerator-freezer, with enough left over to splurge
on a Fujitsu 42-inch plasma-screen television!
The limit of $300,700 applies to houses in the continental
United States. The limit will be $451,050 in Alaska, Hawaii and
the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Limits for multi-family homes in the continental
United States will increase, too:
- Two-family residences: $384,900;
- Three-family: $465,200;
- Four-family: $578,150.
Limits are 50 percent higher in Alaska, Hawaii and
the Virgin Islands.