A reduction in the origination fee on Federal House Administration-insured reverse mortgages could discourage lenders from offering the product and crimp the program's growth, according to a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the FHA reform bill (H.R. 1852).The CBO estimates that the FHA would endorse about 110,000 home equity conversion mortgages in fiscal year 2008 if the reform bill is enacted, and HECM originations would grow at about 2%-4% annually. Last year, the CBO estimated that the FHA could see HECM originations jump to 160,000 loans in a few years. But that was before an amendment to reduce origination fees was attached to H.R. 1852 during a committee mark-up. "A lower origination fee could increase the program's attractiveness to some borrowers, assuming lenders do not increase interest rates significantly to compensate for lower origination fees," the CBO says.

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