House and Senate banking committee leaders are close to an agreement on a Federal Housing Administration reform bill, and it could clear the way for final passage in a few weeks. "We had a very good meeting on the FHA bill," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. "I am very optimistic that we are going to get an FHA bill pretty soon." Rep. Frank said he agreed to drop a controversial provision in the House bill that would require the FHA to contribute excess revenues to an affordable housing trust fund. It appears that the major outstanding issue is raising the maximum FHA loan limit to $417,000 or higher. Some observers expect the final bill to include a Senate provision that prohibits seller-funded downpayment assistance on FHA loans. The Mortgage Bankers Association recently signaled that it is changing its position on DPA. "A consensus of our members is moving towards the Senate position," MBA vice president Francis Creighton told MortgageWire.

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