Fannie, Freddie focus on Obama’s mortgage programme

NEW YORK: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made supporting President Barack Obama’s mortgage-modification programme a main focus of their business in recent months, the government-run companies’ chief executive officers said.

“The thing that’s taken up the most of our time is the development of the Making Home Affordable programme,” Michael J Williams, Fannie Mae’s CEO, said on Oct 12 at a Mortgage Bankers Association conference in San Diego.

Freddie Mac CEO Charles E Haldeman Jr said his company’s role in the anti-foreclosure programme is its “big accomplishment” this year. Freddie Mac has boosted certain staff by 70% and been hiring outside companies to send individuals “door-to-door” to increase participation, he added.

The mortgage-finance companies, which were seized by the government last year, are being used by regulators to administer and monitor the programme, as well reworking mortgages they own or guarantee. The companies have said their support of the housing programme may add to their expenses.

Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said it’s been “good business” for the companies to help stabilise the housing market. “It’s about mitigating losses in a very difficult credit environment.” DeMarco’s agency oversees the two companies.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said recently the programme reached an initial goal of 500,000 trial modifications on Oct 6, a few weeks ahead of the target date. The figure represents about 40% of 1.2 million homeowners deemed probably eligible. – Bloomberg LP

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