WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is proposing legislation to bar Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from purchasing loans originated through predatory practices, including those with excessive fees or unreasonable prepayment penalties.
''This important initiative will protect consumers from being victimized by predatory lenders and ensure that these two government sponsored enterprises are held to the highest standard of conduct in the marketplace,'' said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo in a statement.
Cuomo said the legislation would specifically prohibit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from purchasing loans where the points and fees charged the borrower exceed 5 percent of the mortgage amount.
It also would keep the two from purchasing loans from sub-prime lenders that have not demonstrated compliance with fair housing laws.
Fannie Mae spokeswoman Janice Doue said that while she could not comment specifically on Cuomo's proposal without having more details, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are already moving to install procedural safeguards against the general kind of abuses the government wants to block.
A spokesman for Freddie Mac did not return a telephone call seeking reaction to Cuomo's statement.
The proposed HUD legislation is part of a broader effort to crack down on scam lending, a combination of deceptive business practices and excessive fees victimizing many borrowers, especially in poor areas.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, federally chartered corporations that exert a heavy influence on the market through their mortgage purchases and packaging, have mostly stuck to conventional loans until recently, Bill Apgar, federal housing commissioner, said.
''But both entities have announced they are going to move significantly into the sub-prime market,'' he said in an interview. ''It's new territory for them.''
Apgar said Freddie Mac has bought some $10 billion in sub-prime loans since it started getting into those types of mortgages. Fannie Mae has not released comparable figures, he said.
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