Conforming loan limit rises to $592,250 for Seattle area in 2017
The federal government is increasing the limit for conforming mortgages in most regions of the United States starting Jan. 1, 2017. In the three county area of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the new conforming rate will be $592,250, up from the previous limit of $540,500.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that this is the first such increase since 2006, which moves the baseline rate from $417,000 to $424,100. The approximately 1.7 percent bump in the baseline conforming loan limit follows the FHFA’s announcement that the average U.S. home price has returned to its pre-decline peak, which it hit in the third quarter of 2007.
The FHFA bases the loan cap on its quarterly Housing Price Index, which gauges average single-family home prices. The index rose 1.5 percent during the third quarter of 2016 and is up 6.1 percent over the past year, enough to push it above its previous high point.
Conforming loan limits are significant because they apply to home loans that meet the underwriting guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities that acquire mortgages from lenders and ensure a steady flow of money to the mortgage market. Interest rates for nonconforming, or jumbo mortgages, are generally higher than rates for loans that fall under the cap, and these types of mortgages can be more difficult to obtain.