Fannie, Freddie Loan Limit Won't Increase

Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be able to invest in loans valued above $417,000 next year, their regulator said on Tuesday, saying it will hold the current loan limit steady.

The so-called "conforming loan limit" will be held in place despite falling home prices around the nation, said the regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

"While the house price survey data used in determining the conforming loan limit show a decline over the past year... the level will remain at $417,000 for the third straight year," James Lockhart, the OFHEO director said in a statement.

The conforming loan limit is typically pegged to average home prices across the nation but allies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have called for the limit to be eased in the face of the current housing finance crisis.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are among the officials who have said they could endorse a temporary easing of the loan limit so that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can increase their mortgage investments.

An official at Countrywide Financial said the largest US mortgage lender does not expect issues affecting Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to materially hurt its ability to make home loans.