Home buyers try to beat “jumbo” loans squeeze

April 29, 2011

By Linda Stern
WASHINGTON | Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:55pm EDT

(Reuters) – Bethany and Karl Schreiber are hunting for a nice big house in the pricey Washington, D.C., suburbs and they are facing a deadline: In just a few months their third child will be born, and the tiny two-bedroom they’ve been inhabiting will officially get too small.

But there’s a second deadline looming for them as well. Beginning on October 1, the government will dial back on the size of mortgages it guarantees in high-cost areas like San Francisco, New York and Washington.

After that, the maximum loan amount that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will back is scheduled to drop from $729,750 to $625,500. And that may make mortgages more expensive or harder to get for buyers like the Schreibers, who are shopping in the $700,000 range and would prefer to make a downpayment of 10 percent or less.

“If we wait a year, we may not be able to afford as big a house,” Bethany said in an interview. “Rates and housing prices are probably going to go up.”

The Schreibers concede their timing is mainly inspired by their own family circumstances. But others may be motivated to act now because of reduced government-backed loan assistance, housing experts say. Those programs were put in force as part of the stimulus package after the housing collapse.

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Good reason to take advantage of South Lake Tahoe’s Real Estate Summer season!

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