Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bush to Revive Push for Housing Remedy

--The administration and the Federal Reserve have taken several steps to attempt to address credit-market problems caused by rising mortgage defaults, including an administration-brokered industry effort to help people avoid foreclosure. --Mr. Gillespie and other aides didn't offer new specifics for how Congress could address the housing problems. There are at least two significant pieces of legislation that Congress left unfinished last year. One would bring relief to more low-income borrowers, allowing them to refinance adjustable-rate mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration. A second initiative could help ease a credit crunch for many middle- and upper-middle-income borrowers, in part by allowing government-sponsored mortgage companies such as Fannie Mae to securitize more large loans. Currently, those companies can't take on loans with values of more than $417,000. The administration supports a temporary increase in that limit but only in connection with comprehensive reform of the agencies' oversight, including a strong regulator with authority to limit the size of the mortgage portfolios they hold. --A third possible element in a housing initiative would give states authority to issue more tax-exempt bonds to help troubled homeowners refinance their homes.

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