Jill Schlesinger: Sorting out Fannie and Freddie

Fannie Mae offices in Washington, D.C.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: If you bought a house anytime in the last dozen years or so, there's a very good chance that loan is guaranteed by the federal government through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. That assistance is good for people who need help in obtaining a mortgage.

But, as witnessed with the financial meltdown, it's very bad for an economy to be so entrenched in the housing market. So the Treasury Department is releasing a report today laying out ways for the government to reduce its role. In fact, we're already getting clues to what that'll mean Reuters reports home buyers may eventually be required to put 10 percent down for any loan backed by the government.

Jill Schlesinger is editor at large at CBS/MoneyWatch. She's with us live from New York. Good morning Jill.

JILL SCHLESINGER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: What does the government want to do here?

SCHLESINGER: Well they really want to play a much smaller role in the mortgage market. Right now over 90 percent of loans flow through Fannie and Freddie.

CHIOTAKIS: How are they going to be less involved?

SCHLESINGER: You know one way they could do it is they could literally cut off all government involvement and let the private sector take over. The other way is maybe taper off their involvement by lowering their maximum loan limits. Remember a conforming loan up to $417,000 -- maybe they drop that down. Or jumbo loan -- right now that's at up to $729,500 in higher priced markets. That jumbo is set to decrease to $625,500 in September. And the last idea is well, maybe we'll be involved but only if things are really back. We'll be the guarantor of last resort.

CHIOTAKIS: The guarantor. And like this idea that they've come up with that we're hearing about -- the 10 percent down -- that's going to weed people out as well.

SCHLESINGER: Absolutely.

CHIOTAKIS: Jill Schlesinger in New York. Thank you.

SCHLESINGER: Take care.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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