Demand for multifamily loans is pushing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) into the big leagues with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Tuesday that FHA insured a record $10.9 billion of multifamily loans during the first nine months of fiscal year 2011.

From Oct. 1 to June 30, the agency endorsed 1,050 multifamily loans that will finance the construction or renovation of 151,300 units.

During the same period in FY 2010, FHA endorsed $8.7 billion of apartment-related product.

"FHA has never been more relevant in making sure the multifamily apartment marketplace continues to function even during these tough economic times," said FHA acting commissioner Carol Galante.

FHA also released newly revised guidelines for its Multifamily Accelerated Processing program to delegate more underwriting responsibilities to its designated MAP lenders. The changes are expected to expedite the loan approval process.

The GSEs, of course, have remained quite active in the multifamily loan arena, providing a key source of liquidity to the secondary market. During the first-half Fannie guaranteed $10.5 billion of multifamily loans compared to $17.5 billion for all of last year.

Freddie guaranteed $7.2 billion in multifamily loans during the first-half compared to $4.3 billion last year.

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