First-time homebuyers who want to transition from paying rent to owning a home could benefit from a new underwriting program from Fannie Mae that allows lenders to consider rent payment history.

Fannie Mae is a privately owned, but government supported, organization that backs the mortgage loans that lenders make and resell to investors.

While credit bureaus and scoring companies are starting to include rent and utility payments in consumers’ credit records, those factors are traditionally not considered by Fannie Mae or its sister organization, Freddie Mac. Both organizations — which back many of the mortgages in the U.S. — instead use older versions of the FICO credit scoring system that don’t factor in rent and utility payments when helping lenders underwrite mortgage

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