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Higher loan limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac mortgages

Federal housing finance agency approves higher lending limits for mortgages, buying a home in December is a savings gift and soaring rents result in less space.

Thanks, Uncle Sam.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will boost its conforming loan limit for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The loan limit will increase from $484,350 to $510,400, allowing more buyers in California to qualify for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.

Of course, the state’s median home price was about $605,000 in October, according to the California Association of Realtors. So, buyers would still need a decent down payment or qualify for mortgage-assistance programs.

About two-thirds of the state’s counties have median home prices below the conforming loan limits. But the remaining counties, especially those in the Bay Area and Southern California, easily exceed the loan limit.

So, the Federal Housing Finance Agency also increased the loan limit for the nation’s high-cost areas, from $726,525 to $765,600. Much of the Bay Area, including San Jose and Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles and Orange counties are considered high-cost areas.  

“The new loan limits recognize California’s and the nation’s rising home prices and will ensure more homebuyers have access to safe and affordable mortgages,” says Jeanne Radsick, president of the California Association of Realtors. “These increases keep the cost of borrowing manageable for many California home buyers and will help improve housing affordability across the state. We hope the FHFA will continue to look for ways to increase homeownership opportunities across all housing markets, including high-cost areas.”

Jeanne Radsick

Unwrap the Christmas gifts, then unpack the moving boxes to save money

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so let’s add one more thing, a sort of big thing, to your to-do list — buy a house.

Yep, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just the beginning of the blockbuster deals in December. If you want to save big money — like several hundred to a couple of thousand dollars — buy a house and complete the deal on Dec. 26. So, while others enjoy the after-Christmas deals and exchange that hideous sweater for something they really want, embrace the idea of unpacking boxes and a moving truck.

Nationwide, the average homebuyer who completes escrow Dec. 26 enjoys a 0.3% discount — about $500 for many housing markets such as Georgia, Iowa and Missouri, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. 

In California, the savings, based on the 0.3% discount, would be about $1,800. 

The cost-saving on Dec. 26, and actually the entire month of December, is a much-appreciated gift compared to the 7% premium in June, according to ATTOM Data.

“Closing on home purchase the day after Christmas or New Year’s Eve can be one of the most financially beneficial holiday-season gifts you can get,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data.

Perhaps, but it seems a little Grinch-like, too. And it’s definitely hard to return. 

How far does $1,500 in rent go in SF, LA?

Fast-rising rents are putting the squeeze on many renters who must choose between following their budgets or spending more for space. If you can even afford the pint-sized space.

PropertyClub crunched data and ranked how far $1,500 goes in 50 cities worldwide on ATKearney’s 2019 Global Cities Index. The index ranks cities based on a number of areas, including business activity, human capital, cultural experience and several other categories.

San Francisco — not New York City — came out as the most expensive city worldwide at 261 square feet for $1,500 per month. That’s the equivalent of the average living room. 

San Francisco’s current space for $1,500 per month compares to 319 square feet in 2014, when it also topped the most expensive city list, according to Propertyclub.

Los Angeles made the Propertyclub list, with $1,500 in rent stretching a bit more — to 405 square feet in 2019, compared to 543 square feet five years ago.  

Los Angeles had a 25% decline in loss of square feet compared to the 18% drop in San Francisco. 

New York City was the second most expensive city at 289 square feet in the world.  Want the best bang for your buck — uh, peso? Spend $1,500 in Buenos Aires and you will enjoy more than 3,300 square feet.