Changes to look for in 2016:
Higher loan limits. Home buyers in nine high-cost metro areas can borrow more before resorting to “jumbo” loans. For most of the country, the limit is still $417,000 for loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Regulators raised the conforming-loan ceilings in Napa, Salinas, San Diego and Santa Rosa, Calif.; Denver and Boulder, Colo.; Boston, Nashville and Seattle. New limits range from $437,000 in Nashville to $625,500 in Napa.
More qualifying assets. Freddie Mac allows borrowers to include the full value–up from 70%–of retirement-account assets to meet reserve requirements. Borrowers can also use vested stock options as a source of funds for reserves, down payments and closing costs.
First-time-buyer help. Buyers whose parents help them as co-borrowers don’t have to ante up a minimum of 5% of the down payment, as long as the total down payment is more than 20% of the purchase price. Co-borrowers can also contribute toward reserves, down payments and closing costs.