FHA, Fannie and Freddie regulator making moves to ease mortgage credit

Lenders getting more certainty on when they'll be expected to repurchase bad loans

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A shift by the federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could soon make getting a mortgage loan easier by giving lenders more wiggle room before the mortgage giants demand that they repurchase loans. In his first public remarks since taking over as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mel Watt said he wants to address uncertainties surrounding the "representation and warranty" standards that can trigger repurchase demands. Going forward, new borrowers will be allowed to miss two payments during the first three years after taking out a mortgage without triggering a repurchase demand from Fannie and Freddie. The mortgage giants will also not automatically demand that lenders repurchase loans if a loan's primary mortgage insurance is rescinded. Watt said Fannie and Freddie will continue to allow Fannie and Freddie to approve loans with debt-to-income levels above 43 percent when borrowers have "other compensating strengths," and keep current loan limits in place. ...