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FHA loan limits need to go up
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Most first-time buyers can come up with the income to comfortably cover a monthly house payment but often lack the money needed up front.

They have the income to qualify for mortgages but lack the accumulated wealth to cover the down payment.

It is why FHA loans with 3.5 percent down payments are so popular. A $250,000 home with a FHA loan requires $7,500 upfront as opposed to a conventional loan’s 20 percent down payment requirement that translates into $50,000.

But the FHA option is starting to run out for many San Joaquin County buyers — especially those in higher priced Ripon, Tracy, Manteca and Lathrop — as well as in Stanislaus County communities such as Turlock and Oakdale.

That’s because FHA has an upper limit for loans based on the county. A few years back when prices plunged, the FHA disconnected San Joaquin County’s maximum from being tied in also with Bay Area markets. The result today means a FHA for a home loan in San Joaquin County is $304,750. That’s not good news considering Trulia reports the median closing escrow of Manteca on resale homes are now at $295,000 and rising.

The same dilemma faces buyers in Turlock where the Stanislaus County cap for FHA loans is $276,000. The most recent Trulia report noted the median closed escrow price of homes in Turlock have hit $249,500. While Manteca is pushing the cap Turlock is closing in rapidly.

The caps make it more difficult to find homes that can be bought since it eliminates anything above the cap.

This week Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — two mortgage finance companies regulated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency — rolled out two new low down payment programs that could reduce the costs for first-time and lower income buyers.

The down payment could go as low as 3 percent.

While that helps get more people in the housing hunt who have the wherewithal to comfortably make monthly payments, it doesn’t do any good if there are no homes available for those that qualify for the programs aimed at low-income and first-time buyers.

The FHA needs to raise the loan limits.