Ginnie Mae provides guarantees on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) backed by federally insured or guaranteed loans, mainly loans issued by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Rural Housing Service, and Office of Public and Indian Housing. Ginnie Mae securities are the only MBS that are guaranteed by the United States government.
The GNMA was created by the United States Federal Government through a 1968 partition of the Federal National Mortgage Association. As with other government sponsored enterprises, Ginnie Mae uses a creative acronym of the company's full name, adopted officially for ease of identification.
GNMA primarily does two things. First, it provides a computer platform that efficiently pools mortgages into bonds from pre-approved lenders. Second, GNMA provides, for 6 basis points of the outstanding principal balance of a bond, a guarantee of timely payment of principal and interest; this is essentially a guarantee that the United States government will continue to pay investors even if the underlying collateral (government insured mortgages) defaults. GNMA securities thus have the same credit rating as the government of the United States and for capital purposes have risk-weighting of zero.
GNMA guaranties the following types of securities:
Pools are created by lenders. For example, a mortgage lender may sign up 100 home mortgages in which each buyer agreed to pay a fixed interest rate of 6% for a 30-year term. The lender (who must be an approved issuer of GNMA certificates) obtains a guarantee from the GNMA and then sells the entire pool of mortgages to a bond dealer in the form of a "GNMA certificate". The bond dealer then sells GNMA mortgage-backed securities, paying 5.5% in this case, and backed by these mortgages, to investors. The original lender continues to collect payments from the home buyers, and forwards the money to a paying agent who pays the holders of the bonds. As these payments come in, the paying agent pays the principal which the home owners pay (or the amount that they are scheduled to pay, if some home owners fail to make the scheduled payment), and the 5.5% bond coupon payments to the investors. The difference between the 6% interest rate paid by the home owner and the 5.5% interest rate received by the investors consists of two components. Part of it is a guarantee fee (which GNMA gets) and part is a "servicing" fee, meaning a fee for collecting the monthly payments and dealing with the homeowner. If a home buyer defaults on payments, GNMA pays the bond coupon, as well as the scheduled principal payment each month, until the property is foreclosed. If (as is often the case) there is a shortfall (meaning a loss) after a foreclosure, GNMA still makes a full payment to the investor. If a home buyer prematurely pays off all or part of his loan, that portion of the bond is retired, or "called", the investor is paid accordingly, and no longer earns interest on that proportion of his bond.
The GNMA said in its 2003 annual report that over its history, it had guaranteed securities on the mortgages for over 30 million homes totalling over $2 trillion. It guaranteed $215.8 billion in these securities for the purchase or refinance of 2.4 million homes in 2003.