Fannie Mae has set new standards for purchasing and securitizing adjustable-rate mortgage products, with the aim of ensuring consumers who hold them can sustain their payments beyond the loans' initial interest rate periods.

The new standards require ARMs with initial interest rate periods of five years or less to be qualified at the note rate plus 2%, or the fully indexed rate — whichever is higher.

In addition, qualification criteria for interest-only loans will change such that the maximum loan-to-value ratio cannot exceed 70%, the borrower's credit score must be 720 or higher and the borrower must have a minimum of 24 months of liquid asset reserves remaining after closing.

Balloon loans, which generally are characterized by lower initial interest rates and a significant balance due at maturity, will no longer be eligible unless they receive special approval.

All loans not meeting the new guidelines have to be purchased as whole loans on or before Aug. 31 or delivered into mortgage-backed securities pools with issue dates on or before Aug. 1.

Fannie announced the changes in a memo to lenders Friday.

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