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Regulators relax capital requirements for Fannie, Freddie

Move gives GSEs leeway to buy up additional $200 billion in loans

Federal regulators say they're giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac additional leeway to buy up to $200 billion in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities by relaxing stringent capital requirements put in place in 2004 in the wake of management and accounting scandals. Fannie and Freddie have agreed to raise "significant capital" to stay "well in excess" of the loosened requirements, which should allow the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) to purchase or guarantee $2 trillion in mortgages this year, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. That capacity will permit Fannie and Freddie to "do more" in the jumbo temporary conforming market, subprime refinancing and loan modifications areas, OFHEO said in a press release. The move follows a decision by OFHEO last month to lift a $1.5 trillion cap on loans and mortgage-backed securities the GSEs were allowed to buy and hold as investments (see Inman News story). Fannie an...