WASHINGTON -- The regulator for U.S. housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Friday it wants the two firms to provide more support to some low-income Americans taking out mortgages and refinancing their home loans.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency released proposed goals for the two state-owned firms for 2015-2017 that would advance agency chief Mel Watt's aim to widen access to housing credit.
The FHFA said it wants Freddie Mac, which is second only to Fannie Mae in the amount of housing finance it provides, to gradually expand the number of loans it backs for low-income multifamily buildings, such as apartment buildings, to 230,000 in 2017 from its target of 200,000 this year.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been owned by the U.S. government since taxpayers bailed them out in 2008 during a housing market implosion.
The two firms don't lend money directly, but rather buy mortgages from lenders and sell them as packaged securities with a government guarantee. They back most new U.S. mortgages, and their purchases are a major driver of credit access.
Under the FHFA proposal, the two firms would continue to make sure low-income families accounted for 23 percent of the firms' purchases of single-family home mortgages. However, the firms would raise the share of their purchases that back mortgages in low-income areas with large minority populations.
The proposal would also have the firms increase the share of their mortgage refinancing operations that target low-income Americans.
The proposal is part of the shift at the FHFA that began in January when Watt took the helm. Watt, a Democrat who was nominated to head the agency by President Barack Obama, mothballed his predecessor's plans to scale back limits on the sizes of loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Boosting support for low-income borrowers could stir controversy in the U.S. Congress. Many Republican lawmakers think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's policies to support mortgage access for the poor helped inflate the U.S. housing bubble that eventually burst around 2006.
6 Financial Issues to Tackle in the Fall
Federal Gov't Seeks More Support for Poor Borrowers
For many employers, open enrollment season for some benefits happens in October. This usually sneaks up on some people, who scramble to decipher benefits and make elections last minute. Although you won't be able to see the options until the enrollment period opens, take time now to review your benefits. Are you taking advantage of any 401(k) matches? Are your fully funding your Flexible Spending Account? What about employer offered life and disability insurance? (A fun infographic from the Council for Disability Awareness shows your risks). Maximize your benefits and don't leave any money on the table.
Back-to-school time can be expensive if you're not prepared. Money is spent on clothes, books, supplies and technology -- and that's before the doors to the classroom have even opened. Before hitting the stores, do these two things:
Conduct an online search for "coupon code" along with the name of any store you'll be shopping at. Typically you can find some great online deals.
Get a list from you class or teacher of specific type of notebook, calculator, etc. required. If you can't get child's "must haves" from ahead of time, buy just the bare minimums until school starts and the list is available.
It's hard to think about the holidays when we're just making it through summer, but now is the time to build up a financial cushion. Set yourself up with an automatic transfer to a separate savings account and participate in the Holiday Fund Money Challenge to build up a savings of $450. How much do you need for the gifts, travel, parties, entertaining, food and other holiday activities you anticipate? Planning will help to ease the stress that comes around the holidays.
In lieu of scrambling at the end of the year to make contributions to retirement accounts by Dec. 31, double-check your contributions now and determine if there's room in your cash flow to allow for an increase to possibly max out by year end.
Summer is a typically a time of transitions. There are weddings, moves to new homes, possibly a new family addition and more. If summer is the time when these events take place, fall should be the time to take stock of how they're panning out. If you're recently married and haven't already, now is the time to have the money talk with your spouse and make decisions about spending plans, merging (or not merging) accounts, beneficiary updates and more. If you've moved, check out how the new location has affected your cost of living spending in terms of activities, gas costs, groceries and more. Ultimately with any transition, you need to review your spending plan and determine what areas (if any) need to be adjusted.
If you're lucky enough to live in one of the states that actually experiences seasons, fall is the time to prep for energy savings by caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows, turning your thermostat back for a fixed period each day and insulating your attic, basement or outside walls.