August, 6, 2008 Newsletter

Congress passes a housing bill designed to help restore the real estate market and save qualified homeowners from foreclosure. Some of the highlights include:

Increasing conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to 625,000.00 from 417,000.00.

Creating a tax refund for first time home buyers up to $7500.00. There is a provision to repay the refund over 15 years, so it’s more like a loan.

Grants to states to buy foreclosed properties to be rehabbed and resold.

Funding to protect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Less favorable provisions include the elimination of programs that allowed sellers to provide down payment assistance and raised FHA down payment requirement from 3 to 3.5%. Given the fact that the market will need borrowers with little down payment to get back in the marketplace, this might not be a good thing, but it appears to be reaction to the declining property values seen in many markets.

Regardless, it’s encouraging to see the government start to focus on the housing problem and provide some relief. If the public will buy into the fact that there is an end in sight, the bill should result in the market returning to normal.

Interest rates, as of 8/4/08, are in the 6.375 to 6.5% range for 30 year fixed conforming. Jumbo rates are closer to 6.75 or 6.875%. The best deals for minimum down payment remains FHA.

In our law firm, we welcome Mark Hardcastle and Terry Blair in of counsel positions. They both have extensive backgrounds in real estate and have been in practice over 20 years, with a focus on litigation, both at the trial and appellate level. They provide us the means to handle complex litigation for both our individual and corporate clients.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions. We want to be your resource for all your legal real estate needs. You can reach me at 410 884 1160 x 3007 or email me at