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February 21, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- Fannie Mae posted its eighth straight profitable quarter in the final three months of last year and will send the federal government $7.2 billion, pushing its total dividend payments above the cost of the 2008 bailout for the first time, the company said Friday. Boosted by the housing market rebound, the mortgage giant posted $6.5 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2013 and a record $84 billion for the year. The dividend payment, based on those profits, will bring the total amount Fannie Mae has paid to the Treasury Department to $121.1 billion.
February 20, 2014 | By E. Scott Reckard
Fixed mortgage rates crept higher again early this week, with Freddie Mac reporting that lenders were offering 30-year home loans to solid borrowers at an average 4.33%, up from 4.28% last week. The 30-year fixed rate had declined for five weeks before reversing course last week. The average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage, which held steady last week at 3.33%, edged up to 3.35% in the latest Freddie Mac survey , released Thursday. The start rates on adjustable mortgages were slightly higher as well, said McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac, the giant government-backed home-finance company.
February 13, 2014 | By E. Scott Reckard
A five-week decline in fixed mortgage rates has ended, with Freddie Mac's survey showing the 30-year home loan averaged 4.28% early this week, up from 4.23% a week ago. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged at an average of 3.33%, Freddie Mac said Thursday in its weekly report on the terms that lenders are offering to highly creditworthy borrowers. Aside from a weak jobs report, which the market seemed to shrug off, there was little economic news early this week to influence rates, Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft noted in the finance company's report.
January 26, 2014 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - The verdict was nearly unanimous at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill: The new federal "ability to repay" and "qualified mortgage" regulations that took effect Jan. 10 will make obtaining credit tougher, not easier, this year, and potentially force large numbers of creditworthy home buyers to defer or cancel their plans. What nobody addressed at the hearing, though, was the elephant in the room: OK, we've got a problem. But what, if anything, can buyers who find it difficult to meet the new standards do about it?
January 8, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON -- The new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Wednesday he was delaying planned fee increases by the seized mortgage finance giants because he wanted to assess the impact on the housing market. Melvin L. Watt, who was sworn in as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Monday, quickly showed there would be a change in the direction of government oversight of Fannie and Freddie. He said he intended "to conduct a thorough evaluation" of an increase in fees the firms charge lenders to guarantee mortgages.
January 2, 2014 | By Jim Puzzanghera
WASHINGTON - Federal officials swooped in to rescue mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 with the largest of all the financial crisis bailouts - a combined $187.5 billion - because they were considered too big to fail. Now, despite bipartisan support to shut them down, Fannie and Freddie may prove to be too profitable to close. Fannie and Freddie play a vital role in the mortgage market by purchasing or guaranteeing more than 6 in 10 new loans. And the housing market's recovery has reversed the finances of the once-private companies, now wards of the U.S. government.
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