County-By-County: The 2009 “High-Cost” Conforming Loan Limits

As part of the stimulus package passed last week, Congress authorized a temporary increase to conforming loan limits in certain high-cost parts of the country.

“High cost” is defined by a regions’ median sales price.

With the temporary increase, a greater share of Americans can now qualify for Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed loans, usually the least expensive source for mortgage money.

Higher loan limits can be good for the housing market and the broader economy for two reasons:

  1. Cheaper money can spur new home demand, supporting home values.
  2. Higher loan limits render more homeowners refinance-eligible, freeing up cash for spending, saving, or investing.

The complete county-by-county loan limit list is available on the OFHEO website. 

Of the 3,232 U.S. counties, 10 percent are considered “high-cost”.  Residents of these areas can expect the same low rates offered to the rest of the country, but with a slight premium.  Be sure to ask your loan officer about how it works.