The Federal Home Loan banks of Chicago and Dallas said Thursday that they have taken the first step in a planned nationwide expansion of a controversial pilot program by purchasing $83 million of mortgages from Bank United Corp., Houston.

The pilot program, started by the Chicago bank, is known as Mortgage Partnership Finance. The Federal Housing Finance Board, which regulates the 12 regional Home Loan banks, expanded the program last week. Its goal is to give lenders an alternative to selling mortgages in the secondary market.

Under the two-step deal, the Texas thrift sold 746 loans to the Dallas Home Loan bank. The Chicago bank then bought a majority interest in those loans from the Dallas bank. Bank United, which will continue servicing the residential mortgages, avoided paying a guarantee fee to a secondary market agency by sharing credit risk with the Home Loan banks and ceding management of interest rate and other risks.

Bank United president Barry C. Burkholder said in a prepared statement that the thrift plans to sell $250 million of loans through the program by yearend.

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