WASHINGTON — The Federal Housing Finance Agency is planning to issue a final rule in the next 12 months to require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to better serve underserved markets, including manufactured housing, the agency said Thursday.

Dubbed the "duty-to-serve" rule, it would also require the government-sponsored enterprises to better service rural markets and boost the preservation of affordable housing.

Both industry and consumer groups view the rule as an opportunity to boost lending in underserved markets, lower financing costs and provide better consumer protections through the development of a secondary market for manufactured housing loans.

The agency said it planned to issue the final rule sometime during fiscal year 2016, which started Oct. 1.

Its annual performance plan also says the agency will continue to work on its initiative to update Freddie and Freddie's credit scoring models.

FHFA will "continue to assess the feasibility of leveraging alternative credit scores for underwriting, disclosure and pricing purposes, including operational and system implications."

The GSEs currently use the FICO 4 credit scoring model, which was introduced in 2004. But FICO has made significant changes since then, and lawmakers and community groups have urged Fannie and Freddie to adopt more current credit scoring models. There is no indication in FHFA's report that the GSEs will implement updated credit scoring models in FY 2016.

FHFA Director Mel Watt has cautioned that updating the FICO model or adopting an alternative credit scoring model is very complicated initiative.

The GSE regulator will also continue to work on initiatives to address lender disputes with Fannie and Freddie.

During fiscal year 2016, the GSE regulator will "work with the enterprises to develop a common framework for addressing selling and servicing defect remedies," including an alternative to loan repurchases, according to the performance plan.

FHFA will also work with Fannie and Freddie to assess the effectiveness of their independent dispute resolution pilots and determine the feasibility of extending the dispute resolution pilots to more seller/servicers.

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