Tighter underwriting guidelines unveiled Wednesday by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will make it harder for lenders to qualify borrowers in a year when origination volumes are already expected to tank.

FHA Commissioner David Stevens announced four major policy changes that he said would primarily affect borrowers "at the margins": raise mortgage insurance premiums; require higher down payments from borrowers with low credit scores; reduce home-seller concessions; and step up enforcement actions against FHA lenders. These were consistent with the outline that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan gave last month.

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