Lenders originated $86.1 billion in Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured single-family loans in the fourth quarter, up 21% from same quarter in 2008.

The FHA reported that 60% or $51.8 billion of the endorsements involved home purchase loans during the final quarter of calendar year 2009.

Meanwhile, FHA insurance-in-force grew by 24% during in the calendar year to $752.6 billion as of Dec. 31. But the percentage of singe-family loans 90 days or more past due grew by 34%.

FHA ended the year with a 9.12% default rate, up from 6.82% at yearend 2008. Housing officials are raising the FHA upfront mortgage insurance premium 50 basis points to 2.25% this April to cover rising claims and losses.

Foreclosures involving FHA-insured loans totaled 20,650 in the fourth quarter, up 41% from the same quarter in 2008.

The use of short sales to avoid foreclosure shot up 140% from a year ago to 2,925 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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