The House and Senate moved quickly to pass an extension of the $729,750 GSE loan limit through the end of 2010, hoping to avoid any potential disruption in the mortgage market.

Both chambers cleared the loan limit extension late Thursday as part of a continuing funding resolution.

President Obama is expected to sign the continuing resolution (CR) shortly. The maximum $729,750 loan limit for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Federal Housing Administration loans in high cost areas will expire at yearend, dropping to $625,500. The CR extends the higher loan limits through December 31, 2010.

The CR also extends the nationwide $625,500 loan limit for FHA-insured reverse mortgages through December 2010.

"Given the lack of a private secondary mortgage market, FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are pretty much the only game in town," said Robert Story, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "Extending the current loan limits, along with other initiatives will help restore stability to the housing and mortgage markets."

VA loans were not included in the extension. The Department of Veterans Affairs already has the authority to guarantee single-family loans with a maximum loan balance of $729,750 through December 31, 2011.

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