Chris Salese

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?”

I’m not entirely sure where this classic saying originated, but it’s certainly very applicable in many different ways.

For example, the holiday season is here and we’re traditionally running around from one festivity to the next at this time of year.

Whether you’re chasing down your third mug of eggnog with another glass of wine at someone’s office party or hunting for the perfect gift that’s allegedly somewhere on sale at your favorite local store, you are busy.

That’s right, you have a lot going on and how could you possibly pay attention to all of these recent updates from your government residential lending departments.

The good news is your mortgage professional is likely paying attention for you.

Let’s start with the loan limit increases. Almost a year ago, Napa County received a welcome bump higher in loan limits as a result of rising home prices in the area.

It ultimately joined a select group of counties in California that have been able to take advantage of the “high cost” loan ceiling of $625,500.

Generally speaking, if your lender sends your loan to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), then the amount of money you could borrow with them improves because they usually offer more favorable lending terms compared to most other investors in this loan amount space.

Therefore, as long as you stay under these loan limit caps, you can benefit from their programs and underwriting flexibility.

In turn, it’s helped a lot of borrowers convert from renting to becoming first-time homeowners.

It’s also allowed tons of property owners to transition from adjustable to fixed rates or drop their mortgage insurance as a result of more lending options becoming available to them due to these expanded loan limits.

Finally, for the first time since 2006, the government has increased their base or general loan limits.

This means for 2017, the previous base loan limit of $417,000 has increased to $424,100 and the “high cost” ceiling has been raised to $636,150.

Collectively, this is great news across the board for any county that qualifies or fits within these loan limit parameters.

Yes, Napa County is one of them.

Typically, you will find the best rates with loan amounts below $424,100. However, you will find that rates for loan amounts above this amount, up to $636,150, are very competitive.

These amounts apply to single-family or one-unit properties. Whereas loan amount limits are even higher for two-, three- and four-family properties.

Lastly, the FHA released a recent mortgagee letter that loosens the requirements for which an individual condominium project could be approved at a lower owner-occupied percentage.

At the moment, at least 50 percent of the units of an existing project must be owner-occupied or sold to owners who intend to occupy the units.

The owner occupancy requirement may be reduced to 35 percent if the project meets selected conditions.

Now get out there and share this joyous news at your next social gathering.


Chris Salese can be reached at or 707-363-4439.