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The Wall Street Journal: FHA tightens underwriting standards on government-backed mortgages

Bloomberg News/Landov
Homes stand in this aerial photograph

The federal agency that insures mortgages for first-time home buyers is tightening its standards, concerned it is allowing too many risky loans to be extended.

The Federal Housing Administration told lenders this month it would begin flagging more loans as high risk. Those mortgages, many of which are extended to borrowers with low credit scores and high loan payments relative to their incomes, will now go through a more rigorous manual underwriting process, the FHA said.

The FHA tries to boost homeownership by insuring loans to borrowers with less-than-stellar credit, lessening the risk for lenders. The agency is worried that lenders are making loans to borrowers who can’t repay, leading to a spike in defaults that strains the agency’s reserves.

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