Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U.S. Mortgage Backer May Need Bailout, Experts Say

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.

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A year after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac teetered, industry executives and Washington policy makers are worrying that another government mortgage giant could be the next housing domino.

Problems at the Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees mortgages with low down payments, are becoming so acute that some experts warn the agency might need a federal bailout.

Running questions about the F.H.A.’s future — underscored by interviews with policy makers, analysts and home buyers — came to the fore on Thursday on Capitol Hill. In testimony before a House subcommittee, the F.H.A. commissioner, David H. Stevens, assured lawmakers that his agency would not need a bailout and that it was managing its risks.

But he acknowledged that some 20 percent of F.H.A. loans insured last year — and as many as 24 percent of those from 2007 — faced serious problems including foreclosure, offering a preview of a forthcoming audit of the agency’s finances.

U.S. Mortgage Backer May Need Bailout, Experts Say

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