Fannie, Freddie Defaults Rise as Borrowers Cite Lower Income

April 21 (Bloomberg) — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage delinquencies among the most creditworthy homeowners rose 50 percent in a month as borrowers said drops in income or too much debt caused them to fall behind, according to data from federal regulators.

The number of so-called prime borrowers at least 60 days behind on mortgages owned or guaranteed by the companies rose to 743,686 in January, from 497,131 in December, and is almost double the total for October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a report to Congress today.

Of all borrowers who ended up in default, 34 percent told Fannie and Freddie they were earning less money, about 20 percent cited excessive debt as a reason for missing mortgage payments, and 8.1 percent blamed unemployment, FHFA said.

Fannie and Freddie are the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, owning or guaranteeing 56 percent of all U.S. home loans. Regulators seized Fannie and Freddie in September and forced out top management after examiners said the companies’ capital may be inadequate to weather the worst housing market since the Great Depression.

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