With home prices falling, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Friday that the conforming loan limit would remain at its current level of $417,000 in 2009.

The conforming loan limit is a cap on size of mortgages that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may purchase. That limit applies to loans originated in most, but not all, U.S. housing markets.

A law enacted in July increased the cap to $729,750 in high-cost metropolitan regions. That cap will remain in effect for the rest of this year and fall back to $625,500 in January.

The FHFA listed 59 metropolitan areas that are eligible for the higher loan limits.

The agency said it decided to keep the $417,000 limit after reviewing recent housing price data, including its monthly index, which fell 5.9% in the 12 months that ended on Aug. 31.

“All reliable metrics point to lower prices, and a price decline of any size is sufficient to determine that the national limit will not change,” the FHFA said.

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