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Fannie CEO: Flat guarantee fee on mortgages unlikely

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Smaller lenders will likely to continue paying higher fees to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for guaranteeing principal and interest payments on securities in the future. A recent study from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed the top-10 largest mortgage lenders paid an average 23 basis points in g-fees, compared to 27 bps from other lenders in the top-100 and 31 bps from even smaller mortgage originators. Pulte Mortgage CEO Debra Still asked Fannie Mae CEO Mike Williams at the Mortgage Bankers Association annual conference Tuesday if a flat fee across the board was possible. "That probably will not happen," Williams said. Williams pointed out that the major contributing factors to how the g-fees are calculated are based on loan quality. At Fannie Mae, he said, the loan quality initiative is at or near the top of his priority list to avoid a repeat of the representation and warranty problem still hurting major lenders today. "We all know that the rep and warranty model did not serve Fannie Mae or its partners very well in any way over this recent housing crisis," Williams said. "With our loan quality initiative, we are providing tools that ensure the loans you deliver to us on the secondary market will meet our guidelines and reduce our risk to you as our customers." He also noted in the report the gap between what smaller and larger lenders pay for that guarantee is shrinking – however slowly. The 8 bps difference between these two groups in 2010 is down from 9 bps the year before. But Williams added the gap will be shrinking in the future. "I think we are also moving to a place where the disparity between large lenders and small lenders are very close," Williams said. "But I think there is more to go." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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