Hi "TB", besides being a Realtor I'm also a Mortgage Banker and I just wanted to add to what Gabe has provided:
1. With the exception of three high-cost areas (all in Hawaii), the maximum conforming loan limit is $625,500 in the US. If you to: https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm
you can pull up conforming loan limits by County in CA for 2009. Be sure to select "CY2009" in the "Limit Year" pull-down.
2. Gabe is correct, but make sure you know the funding cut-off date of any lenders still honoring the temporary higher limits that expire at the end of the year. I know that for all of my investors the funding cut-off is 12/15/08.
3. I have a basic Excel spreadsheet you can have if you like. Or, if there's something else you are looking to achieve as far as analysis I probably have that too. Just shoot me an email offline if you are interested.
4. This one's not bad: http://www.jeacle.ie/mortgage/
5. I think the one above is better, and/or I know I have better spreadsheets.
6. My Banking office is in Walnut Creek, but I work from Fremont.
Depending on your situation, another loan option you might consider is FHA. FHA financing allows for only a 3% downpayment until the end of this year, starting in 2009 this will go to 3.5%. Max loan limit for many Bay Area counties will be $625,000. FHA also allows for up to 6% in Seller credits (traditional financing caps this at 3%), which I have successfully negotiated on all my REO purchases this year. We have used much of the Seller credit to buy down the loan interest rate. The "downside" to the FHA option is that you will have a PMI payment, but then again, from a purely financial perspective, it does not make much sense to be putting money down on an asset that will likely go down in value over the next quarter - or longer. You might as well keep your cash in the bank earning interest. You can always pay down your loan balance later.
Here's something else to consider:
On 11/25/08 the Federal Reserve announced it will purchase up to $500 billion in mortgage backed securities that have been backed by Fannie/Freddie, and their step-sister Ginnie Mae, along with buying another $100 billion in direct debt issued by those entities. The fact that they will now buy mortgage-backed securities is HUGE. As a Realtor and Mortgage Banker I can tell you that this announcement is SIGNIFICANTLY reducing mortgage rates immediately! Lower rates coupled with modification programs will be a direct help to housing, one of the main areas of economic weakness, by reducing the rate of foreclosures. Before this announcement mortgage rates were artificially high, showing historically wide yield gaps from US Treasury Bonds, because Investors did not trust banks, banks didn't trust borrowers, and mortgage companies didn't trust homebuyers. With the new Fed guarantees the â€œhealthâ€ of these interdependent relationships will improve mortgage rates.
Steven A. Ornellas, GRI, ABR, e-PRO, CMPS, RE Masters, MBA
REALTORÂ® / Mortgage Banker-Broker / Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist
Steven Anthony Real Estate & Financial Services
Expect Excellence. Get What You Expect.â„¢