Mortgage bankers originated $22.3 billion of Federal Housing Administration-backed single-family loans in May, down 3% from April, according to new figures released by the government.

Nearly 72% of the 124,750 FHA endorsements went to borrowers purchasing a home. Of the 30,900 refinancings in May, 68% were conventional borrowers seeking low-downpayment government loans.

FHA reported that 8.42% of its insured single-family loans are 90 days or more past due, roughly unchanged from the 8.49% rate of April. In February, the serious delinquency rate on FHA loans was 9.17%.

Meanwhile, the May report shows that the 'Hope for Homeowners' program helped six underwater borrowers with conventional loans refinance into a new FHA loan. To date, H4H's results have been underwhelming.

In other FHA news, after months of raising standards for single-family lenders, the agency tightened guidelines for multifamily mortgages for the first time in the 40 years it has insured such loans.

The measures, announced Wednesday, did not catch apartment lenders off guard, but they nonetheless did not welcome the news.

"We're not surprised by anything nowadays," said Menzo Case, the president and chief executive of Seneca Falls Savings Bank in upstate New York. "It's just another nail in the coffin."

Among the new requirements, the FHA is raising debt service coverage ratios and lowering loan-to-value and loan-to-cost ratios. (The maximum loan to value on "affordable" rental properties, for example, is being cut to 87% from 90%.)

The agency is also requiring additional verification of a property's financial performance, an expanded review of the borrower's credit and the prescreening of certain applications to weed out loans that might not make it to closing.

David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology at the National Multi Housing Council, an apartment industry group, said the new standards are fairly reasonable, but will still present challenges for borrowers and lenders.

"The requirements, while they are more restrictive than the previous requirements ... are still the most generous in the market," he said. "That said, it is going to impact a large number of transactions and it's going to require borrowers to seek additional equity investment and that's not what the borrowing community would like to have at a time when they are trying to cope with declining values."

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