From the Wall Street Journal:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are preparing to introduce a program aimed at helping independent mortgage banks acquire the short-term credit they need to make home loans, according to people familiar with the plans.
The two government-backed mortgage companies, the main providers of funding for U.S. home loans, plan to provide advance commitments to purchase home mortgages that meet certain standards. The goal is to reduce risks faced by independent mortgage banks so they can obtain short-term credit....
...Many independent mortgage banks have gone out of business or reduced their lending in the past two years because they have been unable to get enough funding from warehouse lenders. Wall Street firms and some big banks have withdrawn from the business, partly to conserve capital for other purposes. As a result, independent mortgage banks are losing market share to better-financed banking giants.
In this year's first half, the three biggest mortgage lenders -- Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. -- accounted for 52% of new home mortgages, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. In 2007, the top three had a 37% share.