Washington – Thanks in part to technology that automates the credit-verification process within 48 hours, an unlikely contender is entering the mortgage lending business. A division of Citigroup Inc. is piloting a program to offer mortgages to Washington-area residents with "limited credit histories" who "therefore often end up with high-cost or risky home loans." Setting aside $200 million for the program, the division, CitiMortgage, has partnered with Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Bloomington, Ill., which together agreed to buy $100 million worth of the loans.  To qualify for the program, a person must be in the country legally and have alternate credit lines, such as rental payments, utility bills or a tithing record, that a lender can use to evaluate creditworthiness. Historically, gathering the paperwork to confirm these trade lines has been a laborious process that could take months, which often discouraged potential buyers and hurt their chances of closing a deal, reports The Washington Post.  
Neighborhood Housing Services, a sister organization of Washington, D.C.-based housing advocacy group NeighborWorks America, will use a system that automates the credit verification process and delivers results to CitiMortgage within 48 hours. The technology evaluates whatever information is available at the national credit bureaus as well as from other sources.
To participate in the mortgage program, called R-Home, potential borrowers will first go through credit counseling. One of two District-based nonprofit groups, HomeFree-USA or Manna Mortgage, will work with potential borrowers, vet their qualifications and match them with a loan.  If the best loan is with CitiMortgage, then CitiMortgage will fund that loan and sell it to Neighborhood Housing Services, reports the Post. The nonprofit group will then sell the loans to State Farm and Fannie Mae.  Sources: The Washington Post, American Banker

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