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BofA Buys Back Mortgages From Freddie, Fannie

Bank of America announced Monday that it's paid nearly $3 billion to buy back mortgages from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The settlements stem from loans approved by Countrywide Financial from 2004 to 2008, when BofA acquired the subprime lender. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bought those mortgages from Countrywide, many of which went belly-up and contributed to the housing crisis. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae say they believed borrowers met the necessary guidelines. Instead, they say Countrywide used inflated incomes and home values to approve loans. Bank of America made cash payments to Freddie and Fannie on Dec. 31st that amount to $2.8 billion. The bank also announced that its mortgage holdings will be devalued by $2 billion when fourth-quarter earnings are released. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says it's best to settle the claims so the company can move forward. UNC-Charlotte banking professor Tony Plath agrees, but warns. . . "It's a small percentage of that $2.3 trillion in total securititized mortages that the bank offered to investors between 2004 and 2008, so we're likely to see continuing lawsuits." Plath says the settlements appear to be good deal for BofA. For example, the bank paid Freddie Mac about $1.3 billion to resolve Countrywide loans that have an unpaid principle balance of $127 billion through 2008. And Fannie Mae received about $1.5 billion for loans that have an unpaid principle of $4 billion. But Plath notes that Fannie and Freddie have federal government oversight. Plath doesn't expect private investors who lost money to be so generous.