Freddie Mac expects to recover up to $3.4 billion more from banks after scrutinizing soured loans it bought during the housing boom, according to the inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The report released Thursday comes after Freddie Mac agreed last year to settle with Bank of America Corp. over bad loans the bank sold to the housing finance company in the build up to the mortgage crisis. The inspector general later raised concerns about how Freddie Mac reviewed loans for potential buybacks by the bank. After making changes, government-owned Freddie Mac will collect more money from banks, according the report. The FHFA regulates Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Bank of America in January 2011 reached a $1.35 billion settlement with Freddie Mac to resolve current and future loan repurchase requests. The pact covered loans sold by Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America bought in 2008. But in September 2011, the inspector general found Freddie Mac's review process for repurchase requests was lacking.
Freddie Mac had reviewed loans that had become delinquent or had payment problems in only the first two years after they were made. This excluded loans that it had purchased or guaranteed during the housing boom years of 2005 to 2007, which were defaulting in high numbers, Thursday's report said.
The inspector general found, for example, that nearly 100,000 loans granted in 2006 were not reviewed because they did not meet Freddie Mac's criteria. Freddie Mac and FHFA, since the inspector general's findings, have made key reforms, the report noted.
Overall, the inspector general expects Freddie Mac to recover an additional $2.2 billion to $3.4 billion. In a response included in the report, FHFA said Freddie Mac had made several improvements to its process for reviewing loans, including looking at a larger number of loans.
FHFA also said it was working on policies to improve how Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae handle repurchase requests in the future. This week the agency said it will begin reviewing loans shortly after they are bought, rather than after they have defaulted.
Banks grant mortgages loans to customers and then sell them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which packages them as securities for investors. If the loans go bad, the institutions can ask banks to buy them back if there were defects in the underwriting of the loans, such as missing financial statements or fudged appraisals.