The House Financial Services Committee is moving toward increasing the $360,000 conforming loan limit at Wednesday's mark-up of a GSE reform bill so that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can serve higher-priced housing markets.Committee chairman Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, has included an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., to increase the conforming limit to a maximum of $540,000, sources said. The increase in the loan limits would be based on median housing prices -- so one metropolitan statistical area could have a $400,000 limit while a nearby MSA could have a $480,000 limit. A committee spokeswoman refused to comment. "We are opposed to this provision, but overall we like the bill," said America's Community Bankers president Diane Casey-Landry. Under the amendment, Fannie and Freddie would be required to securitize the jumbo mortgages; they could not hold or invest in the loans. It is considered highly unlikely that the Miller amendment will be defeated in committee. However, opponents hope to kill it later in the legislative process.

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