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Two Housing Bills Set to Become Law

[Update 1 reflects the official signing of the bills into law] The US House of Representatives kept itself busy this week, passing two pieces of housing legislation that might bear the President's signature by the end of the day. Both measures look to crack down on fraud in the mortgage process, encourage sustainable mortgages and bolster the federal deposit insurance fund to protect depositors in the growing wake of bank failures. The House approved the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act in a 244-3 vote late Tuesday. The legislation providers for a servicer safe harbor from legal action for initiating qualified loss mitigation programs like modifications. It also alters the borrower qualifications for the Federal Housing Administration's Hope for Homeowners refinance program; mainly, borrowers must certify real need for the program and not default on their existing mortgage intentionally so as to qualify. The bill also expands the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s borrowing authority from the Treasury Department to $100bn and provides the FDIC with $500bn in credit through 2010. The increased borrowing capacity would bolster the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund, which took multi-billion dollar hits from dozens of failed banks so far in '09. President Barack Obama signed the legislation late Wednesday. Also receiving his signature that afternoon was a mortgage fraud bill (S386), which the House approved late Monday and which allows $490m to government and regulator departments to crack down on mortgage fraud. Write to Diana Golobay.

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