The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has insured only $13.8 billion in mortgages with loan balances above the old $417,000 conforming loan limit, including $5.3 billion in California and $2.5 billion in New York, according to new government data.

In February 2008 Congress raised the maximum limit on FHA loans to $729,750 from $362,790 as part of the first economic stimulus package. It was later extended until the end of 2009.

From April 2008 through April 2009, Department of Housing and Urban Development data shows that only 3% of FHA endorsements involved single-family loans above $362,790 and only 1.7% above $417,000, which used to be the limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.

During that April to April period, FHA endorsed 1.7 million loans totaling $292.3 billion and 10.5% are above former limits in each state. In low-cost areas, FHA had minimum loan limits of $200,160 to $271,050 based on median house prices.

"The increase in the FHA loan limits has benefited every part of the country," said Brian Chappelle, a mortgage banking consultant with Potomac Partners in Washington.

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