House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., plans to circulate a bill next week that would create a government program to buy distressed mortgages that have been written down to an affordable level and meet Federal Housing Administration eligibility standards. Chairman Frank said he expects the mortgages to be purchased in an auction and that "we will buy the cheapest ones." He noted that his foreclosure prevention proposal is similar to one by the Office of Thrift Supervision, except that the government would take a "soft second" mortgage and share in any appreciation in the property. Rep. Frank has the backing of House Democratic leaders for the new program, which will require an initial $10 billion to $12 billion investment to start. He also told reporters that the bill might include a provision to shield servicers from investor lawsuits. Many servicers are reluctant to write down loans because of disgruntled investors. In related news, the committee chairman said a House/Senate conference on the FHA reform bill is going well and he expects to send the bill to the president in April.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry

30-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry