If you know me, you know that I don’t like to stick to convention. I was the teenager who skipped college, moved to Hollywood and played rock guitar. In my 20’s, I saved up vacation time not for sandy white beaches but instead for expeditions to the harsh mountain environs of the world’s highest peaks. In my 30’s, I dove (literally) into the sport of triathlon — an endeavor, to quote my Aunt Marge, that would be something she’d “rather die a thousand deaths” before contemplating. When I come to the fork in the road where straight and narrow diverges from the path less traveled, you can bet your best Yogi Berra’ism that I’m gonna take the latter. So to write a blog post solely about the increase in conforming loan limits tests my own limits of conformity. But for once, I am going to go along with the crowd and talk about pending changes coming to the San Francisco Bay Area, and across the state of California, in 2020.
Let’s step back for a minute and recognize that for the entire state (and country), the current conforming loan limit for a single family residence is set at $484,350. In many of the higher cost, coastal counties of CA, we also have a “jumbo conforming,” “super conforming,” or “high-balance conforming” loan limit that exceeds this limit. For example, here in my home county of Marin, that limit is presently set at $726,525. Let’s look at how these will increase in 2020:
2019 Conforming Limit 2020 Conforming Limit
2019 High Balance Limit 2020 High Balance Limit County
$726,525 $765,600 Marin
$726,525 $765,600 Alameda
$726,525 $765,600 Contra Costa
$652,050 $672,750 Monterey
$726,525 $764,750 Napa
$726,525 $765,600 San Benito
$726,525 $765,600 San Francisco
$726,525 $765,600 San Mateo
$726,525 $765,600 Santa Clara
$726,525 $765,600 Santa Cruz
$494,500 $494,500 Solano
$704,950 $704,950 Sonoma
As of the writing of this post (late December of 2019) we have already begun to implement the higher limits, so if you believe any of these increases will impact your purchase or refinance mortgage, please let me know. I am a big fan of the higher limits because a conforming loan generally provides an easier qualification compared to a jumbo mortgage, and simply because we have higher home prices in the Bay Area should not be a reason to subject borrowers to a more burdensome loan process. Yes, I realize that much of the country may not dance to the beat of my drummer. But even though I don’t conform to their point of view, my idea of conforming is increasing, and that’s a step in the right direction.
We don’t get fooled again,
Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709
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