Delinquencies Continue To Rise At Fannie And Freddie

Fannie and Freddie are having more problems. The WSJ reports that delinquencies continue a relentless climb.

Fannie and Freddie, which own or guarantee nearly $5 trillion, or half, of the nation’s mortgages, have seen their serious delinquency rates — mortgage payments 90 days or more past due — shoot to records in the past few months.

It isn’t just the levels that are worrying but the speed at which homeowners are falling behind on their monthly payments.

This week, Fannie reported that 2.77% of the single-family loans held in its $785 billion investment portfolio were delinquent in January. That’s a 0.35 percentage point increase from the month before, the largest such increase since the company started tallying the data in 1998. This is more than double the 1.06% a year earlier. Freddie’s level stands at 2.13%.

CreditSights estimated last year that Freddie could face losses as high as $28 billion if the delinquency rate hits 4%, as the independent research firm expects over the next few years.

The recession, to be sure, is partly to blame for these results. I suspect that when the dust clears we may well find out that many of the loans the two made during the bubble were not the “prime” loans that many want to label them. Underwriting standards slipped everywhere and there simply isn’t any reason to believe that it was any different at F&F.

We could well be facing another pretty serious round of defaults and foreclosures if the recession deepens. Fannie and Freddie’s inattention wasn’t as egregious as that of the private lenders but it did exist. Given the volume of loans they purchased, the numbers might well turn out to be numbing.

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