WASHINGTON - Tougher affordable-housing targets for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be delayed if congressional Republicans freeze federal rulemaking until July.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development was expected early this year to propose new goals for the secondary market agencies' support of loans to people with low and moderate income housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But a move afoot in Congress would halt all new regulations until July 1. (See related story on page 1.)
Defining the affordable-housing goals is already behind schedule. The regulations were intended to set goals for 1995. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, formally the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., are still operating under transitional housing goals set for 1994.
According to an early draft of the regulations, the two agencies would have to significantly increase their lending to low- and moderate-income homebuyers. They also may be asked to monitor the fair-lending records of the lenders with whom they do business.
Meanwhile, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, headed by Aida Alvarez, is planning to publish "within a matter of weeks" an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for risk-based capital standards for the two agencies, according to a spokesman.
OFHEO monitors the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The notice would be the first public step in the process of drafting the complicated standards that Congress mandated for the two agencies in 1992. If a freeze were to be put in place, the agency would likely be barred from publishing the notice.
OFHEO spokesman Eugene Carlson declined to comment directly on how his agency would be affected by a freeze. OFHEO has already missed a Congressional deadline to come up with the risk-based standards.
"For the moment, we are doing what Congress told us to do," Mr. Carlson said. "We are moving ahead aggressively with the regulatory process."
Fannie Mae spokesman David Jeffers declined to comment on the potential impact of a moratorium.
"We'll wait and see," Mr. Jeffers said.
A Freddie Mac spokesman said executives familiar with the issue were not available for comment.
Meanwhile, another key mortgage regulation could be tied up in a freeze.
HUD currently is working on a final rule to regulate controlled business arrangements - typically affiliations between realty and mortgage operations - and computerized loan origination systems.
The proposed regulation, under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, was issued last year and has drawn voluminous comment. The act was designed to prevent kickbacks in mortgage settlements, but the rules have proved extraordinarily difficult to draft.
The latest proposal attempts to define what is permissible among related businesses and within loan-origination networks, and again has proved controversial.