Homeowners in Umatilla and Morrow counties will be among the Americans eligible this year to purchase or refinance their homes using FHA-insured mortgages because of the economic stimulus package.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will allow the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Federal Housing Administration to temporarily increase its loan limits and insure larger mortgages at a more affordable price in high cost areas of the country.

HUD began offering temporary FHA loan limits last week that will range from $271,050-$729,750. The maximum amount of $729,750 will be applicable to extremely high-cost metropolitan areas, such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

In Oregon, the FHA announcement will affect loan limits in Umatilla and Morrow counties.

Locally, the new, permanent FHA mortgage limit on a one-unit house will be $271,050; on a two-unit house will be $347,000; on a three-unit house will be $419,400; and on a four-unit house will be $521,250.

The change in loan limits are applicable to all FHA-insured mortgage loans and lasts until Dec. 31.

By focusing on 30-year fixed rate mortgages, FHA helps homeowners avoid and escape the risks associated with exotic subprime mortgage products, which have resulted in rising default and foreclosure rates.

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