Government-sponsored mortgage agencies popular during a bust

October 29, 2009 06:26 PM

As the national housing market struggled, the mortgage finance industry also changed with the downturn. With most current mortgage lending now regulated by government-sponsored agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it will be difficult for the housing market to return to normal, according to Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. During the boom period, most mortgages were secured by non-agency securitizations because policymakers were skeptical about allowing government-sponsored agencies to become too powerful. Through private agencies, mortgages were able to be secured without conforming to size and underwriting guidelines set by federally-sponsored agencies. However, these non-agency mortgages were also more likely to include option adjustable-rate mortgages, to be rated as subprime, and to have shoddy documentation of borrower income and assets. Now that non-agency securitizations are largely dried up, highly regulated government-sponsored enterprises now guarantee almost 95 percent of new residential mortgages. As a result, mortgages are now subject to higher standards and restrictions set by the government, leading to an overall decline in borrower demand.

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