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Ginnie Mae clears issuers to securitize FHA short refi mortgages

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Ginnie Mae will allow issuers to pool mortgages processed through the Federal Housing Administration's Short Refinancing Program, according to guidance released this week. Ginnie guarantees investors the timely payment of principal and interest on mortgage-backed securities containing federally insured loans, mainly FHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development launched the FHA Short Refinancing Program in September to help underwater borrowers refinance into an affordable FHA loan. The Treasury Department set aside $14 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to encourage mortgage servicers to support write-downs of second mortgages and provide coverage for a share of potential losses on the new loans. But the program faces many challenges, mostly from a lack of participation from the government-sponsored enterprises and the inability of the servicers to achieve "safe harbor" with investors, according to some analysts. The FDIC extended safe harbor protection of securitized assets through the end of the year. Ginnie President Ted Tozer sent a memo to program participants saying it will begin disclosing the concentration of FHA short refinance loans in pools at issuance in November. Ginnie will show the amount of loans, the unpaid principal balance, and the percentage of the loans compared to the total dollar amount in the pool. Write to Jon Prior.

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