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New chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency may push to loosen credit standards

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 7:30 am

Mel Watt was sworn in Monday as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and many in the mortgage industry believe that Watts’ confirmation signals a new shift in U.S. housing policy with greater access to credit, Reuters reports.

“Today’s housing finance system is one of the keys to our economic recovery,” Watt says. “(I hope) to develop a strong foundation for moving this system forward for the benefit of all Americans at this critical point in our nation’s history.”

As the new FHFA head, Watt will oversee mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back about 60 percent of U.S. home loans. Watt has already announced that he plans to delay several Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fee hikes. In December, FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco announced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would charge more to lenders who guarantee loans for borrowers with mid-range or lower credit scores, as well as those who didn’t meet certain down payment guidelines. Watt says he wants to delay those fee hikes until he has more time to review the reasoning behind them.

Those in the mortgage industry also are hopeful that Watt will expand federal programs that allow underwater borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower their interest rates.

FHA has reduced their maximum loan limits and this could affect buyers who are currently searching for properties. Loan limits have been reduced by county as follows: San Joaquin Co.: $304,750, Sacramento Co: $474,950, Amador County: $332,350 and Calaveras Co.: $373,750. Please consult your lender to make sure these loan limit changes have not affected you and your home search.

Leading the way ... in California real estate for more than 100 years, the California Association of Realtores ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 165,000 members. Your local association of realtors, The Lodi Association of Realtors is 92 years old and is one of the oldest and largest associations in our area. We take our duty to the public earnestly and providing you with up-to-date housing information is our privilege.

Eileen Schamber is the president of the Lodi Association of Realtors and can be reached at