Realty Check

Mortgage rates get a break from incoming housing regulator

New mortgage fees delayed

The nation's largest mortgage lenders are rushing to keep up with the latest flip-flop from the agency that oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

In an oddly timed email sent to a handful of reporters late Friday, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.—who has been confirmed as the new head of the FHFA but not yet sworn in—made a major announcement that will directly affect mortgage rates. He said he would delay a decision made by current acting director, Ed DeMarco, to hike fees charged to lenders by Fannie and Freddie.

"I felt that it was important to announce my intentions now because of the prospect that some lenders could start to price the announced changes into the market well before the effective dates of the changes outlined in the FHFA's December 9, 2013 News Release," Watt wrote in the email sent from his personal account.