Morning Brief: Freddie, Fannie Halt Foreclosures

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will suspend foreclosures and evictions for the holidays. The two companies, which were seized by the government in September, said they want to keep people from losing their homes.

They said they are taking the step so they can include more people in a newly announced program to change the terms of troubled mortgages to make them more affordable.

Meanwhile, Capital One is apparently taking a look at Chevy Chase Bank.

The report on Thursday follows news last week that Citigroup had held discussions to buy Chevy Chase, one of the largest and best-known banks in the Washington region, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Chevy Chase Bank, the area's fifth-largest bank, has $11.4 billion of deposits and 292 branches. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

For both Capital One and Citigroup, privately owned Chevy Chase represents a potential source of deposits at a time when financial institutions are hungry for cash. McLean-based Capital One has bought two regional banks in recent years, helping fund its massive credit card business.

In grocery news, supermarkets are finding that frugal trumps foodie in this economic environment.

Giant posted its first positive sales figures in six years during the third quarter after two years of rolling back prices. Whole Foods -- who the frugal-minded call "Whole Paycheck" -- has started giving tours of its stores to point out budget-friendly products. Wegmans announced this month that it is cutting prices on hundreds of items that would save money.

In commercial real estate news, fears about rising default rates and declining property values are spreading to that market, hammering the value of bonds backed by loans made to office buildings, shopping centers and apartment complexes.

So far in the District, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, the percentage of loans that are 30, 60 or 90 days overdue are well below national averages.

Herb Miller, who has helped developed major retail properties in Georgetown and downtown, said he has some loans coming due in the coming years, though none have been packaged into securities. He is closely watching the market.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 21, 2008; 8:06 AM ET  | Category:  Capital One , Economy Watch , Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac , Morning Brief , Real Estate , Retail
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