WASHINGTON, DC-Another government agency–this time the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight–has taken steps to inject more liquidity into the capital markets. Specifically, the agency has scaled back the capital surplus requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to 20% from their former level of 30%.

Coincidentally the agency’s new measure is expected to deliver some $200 billion of capital in the near term for mortgage-backed securities–the same amount that last week’s measures taken by the Fed is expected to bring. “We believe they can play an even more positive role in providing the stability and liquidity the markets need right now,” OFHEO director James Lockhart says in a prepared statement.

According to a statement by Daniel Mudd, president and CEO of Fannie Mae, the agency “plans to harness this additional capital by making purchases in segments of the mortgage market where liquidity is needed most.” These segments include affordable loans; loans that refinance borrowers out of subprime ARMs and into prime, fixed-rate products; jumbo-conforming loans; and multifamily mortgages that finance affordable rental housing. “More broadly, we will purchase and guaranty additional conventional, conforming mortgage-backed securities to help keep mortgage rates down and ensure stability in the center of the market,” he adds.

In general, Fannie and Freddie “have been doing an outstanding job in the credit crunch, picking up the slack created by the frozen CMBS market, Scott Casselman, VP of Coldwell Banker Commercial Ideal Realty Group, tells GlobeSt.com. On an individual deal level, though, he adds, it would be helpful for the agency to revisit its debt service coverage ratios, which have been rising. In most markets, “cap rates are rising and rents aren’t growing that fast and buyers cannot underwrite on yet unrealized numbers. There is still a delta between what owners want for a property and what buyers are willing–or can afford to finance–to pay. That is causing a lot of people to sit on the sidelines right now.”

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