WASHINGTON -- The new regulator for
He said he intended "to conduct a thorough evaluation" of an increase in fees the firms charge lenders to guarantee mortgages. Those increases, which would make mortgages more expensive, were set to take effect in March and April.
The agency estimated that the fees for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would increase by .14 percentage points as part of an effort to reduce Fannie's and Freddie's over-sized presence in the housing market.
Fannie and Freddie guarantee or purchase more than six in 10 new mortgages.
The fees usually are passed on by lenders to borrowers, increasing the cost of mortgages. The combination of higher-priced mortgages, along with other changes such as new federal standards for so-called qualified mortgages, could slow the housing market recovery, analysts said.
"The implications for mortgage credit availability and how these changes interact with the new qualified mortgage standards could be significant," Watt said.
"I want to fully understand these implications before deciding whether to move forward with any adjustments to g-fee pricing," he said.
DeMarco said he was trying to protect taxpayers, who have pumped $187.5 billion into Fannie and Freddie since they were seized on the brink of bankruptcy in 2008. The companies have returned to profitability and have paid the government a total of $185.3 billion in dividends, nearly offsetting the cost of the bailout.
Though there's broad agreement on both sides of the political aisle that Fannie and Freddie should be shut down, Democrats have said they want to be more cautious in doing so to avoid damaging the housing market.