Fannie, Freddie halt foreclosures ahead of Obama plan

WASHINGTON Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:49pm EST

1 of 4. U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a Caterpillar Plant in East Peroria, Illinois, February 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae FNM.N and Freddie Mac FRE.N will suspend mortgage foreclosures and evictions through early March as President Barack Obama prepares to announce a housing rescue plan next week, the companies said on Friday.

On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to detail a program that will use $50 billion to help prevent foreclosures.

"Fannie Mae today announced it is suspending all foreclosure sales and evictions of occupied properties through March 6 in anticipation of the administration's national foreclosure prevention and loan modification program," the company said in a statement.

In a major break from existing aid programs, the plan under consideration would seek to help homeowners before they fall into arrears on their loans. Current programs only assist borrowers that are already delinquent.

Under the evolving plan, sources said, homes would undergo a standardized reappraisal and homeowners would face a uniform eligibility test to receive aid.

On Friday, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney said lawmakers were eager to see the details of the plan.

"They're working on it now," she said, referring to the administration.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker and John Poirier; Editing by Kenneth Barry)