Stimulus money: SF has fewest homes that qualify for Obama rescue


The San Francisco Bay Area has the fewest homeowners in the country who are eligible for the refinancing included in President Obama's housing rescue package, according to a San Francisco Chronicle story.

The real estate service offered an analysis of loan data and found that more than 90% of Bay Area mortgage holders can't qualify for the low-cost refinances.

"The Bay Area is being hit by the fact that it's high-priced, and therefore the loans that were made around the peak years were not conforming (meaning they were above $417,000), and secondly, that (the housing market) has gone into such sharp decline that many homes are underwater by more than 5%," Stan Humphries, vice president of data and analytics for Zillow in Seattle, told the Chronicle.

The White House plan calls for assisting homeowners whose home equity had dwindled by letting them refinance into lower cost mortgages, potentially saving them hundreds of dollars a month and reducing the risk that they may lose their homes to foreclosure.

But the plan is only available to people who took out conforming loans of less than $417,000 and whose homes are not more than 5% underwater, meaning what they owe isn't more than 5% greater than their home's value. The Chronicle used an example of a home now worth $300,000 and the homeowner owes $315,000 could qualify, but not if the value dropped further.

Just 8.4% of homes in the San Francisco metropolitan region meet those criteria.