Fannie Mae settles with Wells Fargo as mortgage review ends

December 30, 2013

Wells Fargo will pay a net $541 million to Fannie Mae to settle claims over defective home loans, completing the government-controlled mortgage company’s efforts to have banks buy back troubled loans made before the financial crisis.

Fannie Mae said Monday that it has reached settlements worth about $6.5 billion over loan buybacks with eight banks, including Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender and fourth-largest bank by assets.

The settlements include a $3.6 billion accord in January with Bank of America over loans from that bank and the former Countrywide Financial. Fannie Mae chief executive Timothy Mayopoulos was once general counsel at Bank of America. The settlements also include a $968 million accord in July with Citigroup.

In the Wells Fargo settlement, the San Francisco-based bank will pay Fannie Mae $541 million in cash after adjusting for credits from prior repurchases. Before adjustments, the settlement totaled $591 million.

The accord resolves substantially all repurchase claims against Wells Fargo over loans sold to Fannie Mae that were made before 2009.

“We have closed out our legacy repurchase reviews with this agreement,” Mayopoulos said in a statement. “This agreement represents a fitting conclusion to our year of hard work to put legacy issues in the rear-view mirror and begin 2014 focused on improving the future of housing finance.”

Wells Fargo agreed in September to pay a net $780 million to the smaller Freddie Mac to resolve similar repurchase claims. It said it had set aside sufficient funds for the Fannie Mae settlement.

District-based Fannie Mae and McLean-based Freddie Mac were directed by its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to reduce outstanding loan repurchase demands by year’s end, and have been reaching many agreements with individual lenders.

Banks can be forced to buy back home loans if representations and warranties concerning the underwriting and whether borrowers could afford to make payments prove false.

Freddie Mac did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment on its repurchase efforts.

The FHFA is also pursuing lawsuits against many banks over mortgage securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or guarantee two-thirds of U.S. home loans.

— Reuters

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