Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage agencies taken over by the US government in September, will suspend foreclosure sales and evictions from occupied properties until January.

The move is intended to give servicers more time to help borrowers avoid losing their homes over Christmas and echoes similar foreclosure moratoriums announced by banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America as the mortgage industry steps up efforts to modify terms for struggling borrowers.

Fannie and Freddie said last week they would streamline the modification of loans for hundreds of thousands of borrowers who are at least 90 days behind on their mortgage payments. The foreclosure suspension applies to 16,000 occupied homes.

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