One of the less-examined cracks in the foundations of the Federal Housing Administration is the lending done in recent years by home builders' financing arms.

The default rates on recent loans originated by the mortgage units of Centex Corp., Lennar Corp., and D.R. Horton Inc. run from 129% to 160% of the national average for FHA, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. While that's better than the 200%-plus ratios of the 15 lenders that HUD's inspector general subpoenaed last month, all three builders' mortgage shops rank among the 10 worst-performing lenders of the 50 highest-volume FHA originators.

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