Federal housing officials recently announced that they would be increasing the conforming loan limits in 2024 for most counties across the U.S. Here in the Seattle metro area, the 2024 conforming loan limit will be set at $977,500 for 2024.
Home buyers in Seattle who need to borrow more than this limit can do so as long as they have the income to support it. When you borrow more than the conforming loan limit for your particular county, it’s considered a “jumbo” loan.
Interestingly, Seattle loan limits in 2024 have remained unchanged from last year. This is unusual, as most other counties have seen increases. Perhaps this is because home prices in Seattle have actually dipped over the past 12 months.
Conforming Loan Limits Increased Nationwide
A conforming loan is a mortgage that meets specific criteria set by government-sponsored entities (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These criteria include the maximum loan size and other parameters.
In short, conforming loans adhere to specific guidelines that make them eligible for purchase by these GSEs via the secondary mortgage market.
On November 28, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they would be increasing the conforming loan limits for 2024 for most counties due to rising home prices nationwide.
According to that announcement:
“The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the conforming loan limit values (CLLs) for mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will acquire in 2024. In most of the United States, the 2024 CLL value for one-unit properties will be $766,550, an increase of $40,350 from 2023.”
These loan limits can vary by county because they are based on median home prices. The FHFA reviews them yearly and increases the limits when they feel it’s warranted due to price growth.
Seattle-Area Loan Limits for 2024 Remain Unchanged
Unlike most metro areas nationwide, conforming loan limits in Seattle
will remain unchanged for 2024. The rest of Washington will see an increase but at a lower level.
Here are the limits for Washington in 2024:
- King, Pierce and Snohomish counties: $977,500
- All other counties in Washington: $766,550
Note: These figures apply to single-family or “one-unit” properties purchased within the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area. Multifamily properties like duplex and triplex units have higher conforming loan limits, available on the FHFA.gov website.
The loan limits in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are higher than the rest of the state because the Seattle area has higher home prices. Federal housing officials determine these limits based on each county’s median home price.
Higher Than the Median Home Price
It’s also worth mentioning that the 2024 conforming loan limit for the Seattle area is well above the current median home price.
According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median sale price for King County, Washington, is currently around $800,000. The median price for Snohomish County was around $700,000 during that same timeframe, while Pierce County clocked in with a median value of $520,000.
According to Zillow, home prices in Seattle dropped 2.8% over the past year. In King County as a whole, home prices dipped by 2%. That might be why the FHFA chose not to increase Seattle loan limits for 2024.
Despite this, buyers shouldn’t worry too much about landing in jumbo loan territory. At $977,500, the 2024 Seattle conforming loan limit sits well above these price levels. Because of this, home buyers in the area who use mortgage loans should have plenty of financing range without having to use a jumbo mortgage loan.
Of course, the Seattle area continues to experience a housing market shortage. So, regardless of their price range, all home buyers in the area will have to be patient and persistent when house hunting in 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions
Home buyers in Seattle have a lot of questions when it comes to the maximum amount they’re able to borrow. Ultimately, this will depend on your current income and debt situation.
But the Seattle loan limits for 2024 do play a role here as well since they affect the amount you can borrow for a “standard” conventional loan in Washington. Home buyers should be familiar with Seattle’s conforming loan limits for 2024 before putting on an offer on a home and applying for a mortgage.
Below, we have addressed some of the most common questions about conforming loan limits and how they can affect borrowers.
1. Why do these loan limits even exist?
Conforming loan limits ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that purchase and securitize mortgages, can operate effectively. By limiting the size of mortgages they purchase, the GSEs can reduce their risk while giving borrowers increased access to mortgage financing.
2. Who determines them?
Conforming loan limits are determined by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an independent agency of the U.S. government. The FHFA sets the limits based on various factors, including the average home price in each county and the housing market’s overall health.
3. What types of mortgage loans do they apply to?
Conforming loan limits apply to conventional loans in particular. These types of mortgages do not receive government insurance or guarantees. Banks, credit unions, and other private lenders offer conventional loans.
The “conventional” label distinguishes these mortgages from government-backed home loan programs like FHA and VA.
4. Can I borrow more than the limit for my county?
You can borrow more than the conforming loan limit for your county as long as you have sufficient income. It’s called a jumbo mortgage loan when you borrow an amount that exceeds the conforming for your particular county.
These “oversized” home loans sometimes have stricter qualification criteria for borrowers, such as a larger down payment or higher credit score. But if you have a good credit score, enough funds for a down payment, and sufficient income, you could qualify for a mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming loan limit in your county.
5. Are interest rates for jumbo loans higher than conforming loans?
Generally speaking, lenders often charge higher mortgage interest rates for jumbo loans versus conforming rates. The reason is that the lender is taking on more risk if you require a bigger loan amount. That said, not all jumbo loans necessarily have higher interest rates.
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate conforming loan is 6.82%, while the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan is 6.96%. The gap is relatively small, while the jumbo loan rate is higher than the conforming loan rate. Having said that, even a 0.1% difference in mortgage rates can significantly affect the overall cost of a home loan.
Ultimately, Seattle loan limits in 2024 could affect your homebuying decision if you purchase an expensive home with a price tag well over the limit threshold.
Have questions? Sammamish Mortgage has been helping borrowers across the Seattle metro area and the broader Pacific Northwest since 1992. We offer a variety of mortgage loan options, including both conforming and jumbo loans. Please contact us if you have a question about these loan limits or want to find out how much you’re able to borrow!