Consider it a New Year’s gift from housing officials. Loan limits for Pierce County, Washington will go up by more than $50,000 in 2017, in response to rising home values.
The revised conforming loan limit for Pierce County is $592,250, for a single-family home. Anything above that is considered a “jumbo” mortgage, meaning it’s too large to be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Pierce County Conforming Loan Limits for 2017
Here are the revised conforming loan limits for Pierce County in 2017:
- One-unit: $592,250
- Two-unit: $758,200
- Three-unit: $916,450
- Four-unit: $1,138,950
Notes: In this context, a “one-unit” property is a regular single-family home. That’s the limit that applies to most home buyers in Pierce County. The two, three, and four-unit caps mostly apply to real estate investors purchasing multi-unit properties like duplexes and triplexes.
Rising Home Values Bring Higher Mortgage Caps
In November 2016, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it would increase the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In most of the country, the 2017 maximum limit for a one-unit property will be $424,100, up from $417,000 last year. The new cap for high-cost areas with more expensive homes was raised to $636,150 for 2017.
The 2017 Pierce County conforming loan limit falls between these “floor” and “ceiling” amounts, at $592,250 for a single-family home. That’s a big increase over last year’s cap of $540,500.
Loan limits are set at the county level, officially, but they are usually the same across an entire metro area. So the 2017 caps shown above apply to the greater Seattle metropolitan area, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
This change should come as welcome news to home buyers and mortgage shoppers in Pierce County. The higher loan limits will give borrowers more properties to choose from, without venturing into jumbo mortgage territory. (A jumbo loan is one that exceeds the conforming loan limit within the county where the home is located, and therefore cannot be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)
The Seattle Effect
According to Zillow, the median home price across Pierce County rose by 11.2% during 2016, to land at $283,800 at year’s end. So why is the single-family conforming loan limit for Pierce County so much higher than that? The answer has to do with the metro area grouping mentioned earlier.
Loan limits are generally kept uniform across metro areas, and home prices in and around Seattle are much higher than the countywide average for Pierce County. Seattle’s median home price is north of $600,000, as we start 2017. That’s why the conforming loan limit is set at nearly $600,000. Call it the “Seattle effect.”