Is the 30 year fixed rate mortgage an endangered species?

Discussion about mortgage rates normally focuses on the 30 year fixed rate mortgage (FRM). As the table below shows, the US is unique in developed countries in having FRMs as the dominant product:


Only Denmark and France have significant FRM markets and their products differ from the US in certain ways. (more…)

Year end reviews

I shall be publishing year-end reviews over the course of this weekend. The best way to know when they are published is to sign up on to receive email alerts of new articles. Here’s a screenshot showing where you can sign up on the home page.



If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

New FHFA Head moves to delay fee increases

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos, Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.), the incoming director of the regulatory agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said on Friday night he would delay an increase in mortgage fees charged by the housing-finance giants, which was announced earlier this month by that agency.

Upon being sworn in, “I intend to announce that the FHFA will delay implementation of the loan-fee increases until such time as I have had the opportunity to evaluate fully the rationale for the plan,” said Mr. Watt in a statement.

Conforming mortgage loan limits raised for Essex County

While the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced that the 2014 maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will remain at $417,000 for one-unit properties in most areas of the country, the limit in Essex County will increase from $465,750 to $470,350.

Earlier this year FHFA had announced that it was contemplating a reduction in loan limits for 2014, but that announcement was met with a tsunami of protests.

With the change in the rules for Senate approval of most nominees, it is highly probable that the FHFA will soon have a new head, Rep. Mel Watts, who is expected to be more amenable to carrying out the Administration’s goals in the housing market.

Here is an article with comment on some of the effects expected with Mr. Watts in charge.

Conforming Loan Limit

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are restricted by law to purchasing single-family mortgages with origination balances below a specific amount, known as the “conforming loan limit.” Loans above this limit are known as jumbo loans. The national conforming loan limit for mortgages that finance single-family one-unit properties increased from $33,000 in the early 1970s to $417,000 for 2006-2008, with limits 50 percent higher for four statutorily-designated high cost areas: Alaska,  Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Since 2008, various legislative acts increased the loan limits in certain high-cost areas in the United States.  While some of the legislative initiatives established temporary limits for loans originated in select time periods, a permanent formula was established under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.