The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., under pressure to expand its affordable-housing efforts, has added four community development lenders to its roster of clients.
The lenders were chosen because they provide Freddie Mac with direct access to mortgages for buyers with low and moderate incomes, an agency official said.
The lenders are Elk Horn Bank and Trust Co., Arkadelphia, Ark.; Community Capital Bank, New York; South Shore Bank, Chicago; and the Self-Help Credit Union, Durham, N.C.
Freddie Mac buys mortgages from lenders around the country, holding some as investments and repackaging the rest as securities for investors.
The selling lenders generally process monthly payments on the loans, earning fee income and maintaining relationships with customers.
Freddie Mac has been stepping up its efforts in the affordable-housing market following passage of legislation last October to bolster the regulation of the agency and its chief rival, the Federal National Mortgage Association.
Under the law, the agencies must try to ensure that 30% of the loans they buy are for people with low and moderates incomes.
Aida Alvarez, recently appointed as the agencies' regulator. has 18 months to produce a plan for meeting those targets.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have both said they would be able to meet the goals, though Freddie has lobbied for more time.
The addition of the development banks to Freddie Mac's roster of loan sellers comes two months after the agency held an affordable-housing "summit meeting" with community development organizations to discuss ways it could serve homebuyers with low to moderate incomes. Two more meetings are scheduled for this year.
"It's a two-way leaming process. We can learn from them - and inform them about our operations," said Daniel Russell 3d, Freddie Mac's vice president for affordable housing.
For Community Capital, which is dipping its toe into the secondary mortgage market for the first time, the decision to sell loans directly to Freddie Mac will add significantly to its ability to make mortgages.
"We're delighted to be a participant in their programs," said Stephen Laine, chief executive of Community Capital.
The $23 million-asset bank specializes in multifamily loans but is hbping to use its approval as a Freddie Mac seller and servicer to launch a major push into single-family lending.
"A small bank such as ours can only make so many loans, and my goodness, if we had to wait 30 years to get our money back, we'd go out of business," Mr. Laine said.
The same is true for Elk Horn, a subsidiary of Southern Development Bank Corp., said George Surgeon, chief executive of Elk Horn and its parent company.
Mr. Surgeon said Elk Horn would also use its access to the secondary market to launch a push into single-family homes. In the past, the bank has concentrated on commercial and agricultural loans.
Mr. Surgeon said Elk Horn had been selling loans to wholesalers for several years, but this agreement marks the first time it will have direct access to the secondary market.
"By going [to Freddie Mac] on a direct basis, we'll improve our profit margin and flexibility," he said.