REAL ESTATE

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Fannie Mae to Ease Lending Requirements: The Federal National Mortgage Assn. unveiled two products to allow people with insufficient down payments or incomes to buy houses. With a "Fannie 97" mortgage, borrowers can put down just 3% of the purchase price. If a borrower is short of cash, family members or nonprofit groups can help to pay the closing costs. Borrowers with more cash but not much income can choose the "Start-Up Mortgage." The 30-year, fixed-rate loan requires only interest payments in the first year, a feature that makes it easier to handle than conventional loans that require principal payments as well. The government-sponsored agency known as Fannie Mae aims to offer $5 billion worth of the 3% down-payment loans through local mortgage lenders within a year.

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