November 10, 2008 / 7:36 PM / 9 years ago

Fannie Mae, America's accidental property baron

NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Fannie Mae FNM.N FNM.P said on Monday that the housing finance company has taken over so many homes through foreclosures that if it were a town, it would be bigger than Dayton, Ohio.

It is also on track to pass Richmond, Virginia, this year in terms of the number of houses, and would crack the top 100 municipalities as ranked by DataPlace, a web-based source of housing and demographic data.

As a record number of Americans lose their homes during the worst housing crash since the Great Depression, Fannie Mae now owns 67,519 homes.

The company, which the U.S. government placed in conservatorship in September following record losses, said in its third-quarter earnings that its inventory of foreclosed properties rose by nearly a quarter in three months and more than double from a year ago.

That puts it on par with cities such as Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Providence, Rhode Island, in terms of number of households.

The company is working hard to clear the inventory. On its website it lists dozens of homes in Detroit selling for next to nothing. One listed at $1,900 entices buyers with "100 percent financing," a ploy with what might be described as a tarnished reputation in the United States.

Yet it seems to be working. A two-bedroom, 1,900 square foot house on Seminole Street is listed as "under contract." The price? $50. (Editing by James Dalgleish)

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