Home prices across the state of Washington have risen steadily over the past year or so. According to one recent report, the median home value for the state climbed 8% over the past 12 months alone.
And that’s largely why federal housing officials are increasing VA loan limits for Washington in 2019. This means military home buyers will have more financing range next year, without having to make a down payment on their purchase.
In 2019, the new VA loan limits for Washington will range from $484,350 to $726,525, depending on the county.
VA Loan Limit in Washington Going Up for 2019
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs typically uses the “conforming” loan limits established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, applying those caps to the VA home loan program. From a home buyer’s standpoint, these limits represent the maximum amount that can be borrowed without making a payment.
To be clear: It’s possible for VA-backed home buyers in Washington to borrow more than these limits. But that typically requires a down payment of some kind. Borrowers who want to finance 100% of the purchase price (with no down payment at all) typically have to stay within the official VA loan limit for their county.
It says as much on the Department of Veterans Affairs website:
“VA does not set a cap on how much you can borrow to finance your home. However, there are limits on the amount of liability VA can assume, which usually affects the amount of money an institution will lend you. The loan limits are the amount a qualified Veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a downpayment.”
Higher limits are assigned to the Seattle metro area counties of King, Snohomish and Pierce because median home values are higher in those areas. Statewide, the median home value was around $377,000 as of December 2018. But in the Seattle metro area, the median was closer to $500,000 during that same month. And within the city itself, the median house value is currently north of $700,000. So those areas have been assigned higher loan limits.
For all other counties across the state, the 2019 VA loan limit will be $484,350. That’s the new “baseline” amount that will apply to the majority of U.S. counties next year.
More Good News for Military Home Buyers
In a recent article, we listed five reasons why 2019 could be a great year to buy a home in the Seattle area. Many of those reasons apply to the rest of the state as well. Military home buyers in Washington have several things to look forward to in 2019. Here’s a recap:
More inventory: Across the state of Washington (and in Seattle particularly), we are seeing an uptick in housing inventory. This means home buyers who make a purchase in 2019 could have more properties to choose from, compared to those who bought in the past.
Slowing price growth: Home prices in Washington are expected to continue rising throughout 2019, but at a slower pace than the past couple of years. This “cooling” trend is most noticeable in the Seattle area. But it’s happening elsewhere in the state as well. As a result, military home buyers in Washington might feel less pressure when house hunting in 2019, compared to previous years.
Motivated sellers: The latest MLS and real estate industry reports show that there’s a higher percentage of sellers reducing their prices these days. This is an offshoot of the general cooling trend mentioned above. Bidding wars — once common in the state’s major real estate markets — are now becoming more of a rarity. In 2019, military home buyers could enjoy more negotiating leverage.