Another mortgage lender specializing in low income borrowers is in trouble: the Federal Housing Administration. The agency which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could soon share their fate, as borrowers default on the low-downpayment mortgages it insures, critics told a House subcommittee yesterday. “It appears destined for a taxpayer bailout in the next 24 to 36 months,” said an ex-Fannie Mae executive.
The agency’s commissioner insisted that isn’t the case, saying the agency is managing its risks well, but he did acknowledge that roughly 20% of its loans went belly-up last year. The issue has split Congress; with Republicans want to rein in the agency, but with private lending virtually non-existent, Democrats say the FHA is too vital. “Let’s be clear,” said Maxine Waters, “Without the FHA, there would be no mortgage market right now.”