The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued the new loan limits for Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac mortgages in high-cost counties of California and will soon release the loan limits for the rest of the country. Congress has temporarily increased the loan limits in high-cost areas to 125% of median home prices, up to a maximum of $729,750, until Dec. 30. Under this authority, lenders will be able to originate mortgages with a principal balance of $729,750 in the counties of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange, and Santa Barbara. HUD is also issuing a mortgagee letter that gives FHA lenders the green light to make the higher-balance loans. Lenders can check the new loan limits in their state by going to the FHA website, looking under "Hot Topics," and clicking on "Stay Informed of FHA Mortgage Limits." The FHA can be found online at http://www.fha.gov.

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