As the housing market continues to lag in sales, Fannie Mae is laying the groundwork to entice buyers by announcing it will offer up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance on Fannie Mae-owned HomePath properties. To qualify, the buyer's initial offering on the HomePath property must be submitted on or after April 11 and the sale must close by June 30. The buyers must use the home as a primary residence since sales to investors are not included in the offering. The lackluster recovery in the housing sector continues to haunt federal officials. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee recently blamed weak housing activity on low demand and larger inventories of distressed properties while discussing the overall economy. "Attracting qualified buyers to the market and reducing the inventory of vacant homes remains essential to stabilizing neighborhoods and helping the market recover," said Terry Edwards, executive vice president of Credit Portfolio Management. "Since interest rates remain low, the incentive will go a long way toward helping even more families buy a new home so this is a great time for Fannie Mae to offer some assistance." Write to Kerri Panchuk.