Regulator Asks for Input on Raising Fannie-Freddie Fees

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is seeking public input on whether raising fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would adversely affect mortgage lending.

The move is part of an effort by Melvin L. Watt, the agency’s director, to re-examine policies set by his predecessor that were aimed at shrinking the footprint of the two government-owned companies. The former North Carolina congressman, who has said he wants to use the companies to ensure liquidity in the housing market, suspended planned fee increases after he took over the agency in January.

The agency yesterday asked for feedback on a set of questions, including whether raising fees would decrease lending overall and whether it would be undesirable if higher costs at Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac excluded borrowers with low credit scores.

FHFA also asked for feedback on a plan to charge higher fees in New York, New Jersey, and other states where long foreclosure timelines make it more expensive for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to dispose of properties they take over after borrowers default. Watt’s predecessor, Edward J. DeMarco, announced such an increase last year before Watt put it on hold.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages and package them into securities on which they charge fees to guarantee payments of principal and interest.

The fees are typically passed on to borrowers in the form of higher interest rates. FHFA’s last guarantee-fee increase, of 10 basis points, came in November 2012. A 10-basis-point increase would cost a borrower with a $200,000 loan about $4,000 over a 30-year term.

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