Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said today it would buy up to $15 billion in home loans for higher-priced properties, using new flexibility...

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WASHINGTON — Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said today it would buy up to $15 billion in home loans for higher-priced properties, using new flexibility granted by Congress earlier this year.

Freddie Mac, the second-largest U.S. financier and guarantor of home mortgages, said it would buy the mortgages of up to nearly $730,000 from Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

Richard Syron, chief executive of Freddie Mac, said the move “shows how we can bring new liquidity to markets other investors have all but abandoned and make full use of the new tools Congress gave us to help restore stability during the current housing crisis.”

The economic stimulus package signed by President Bush in February temporarily raised the maximum size of so-called conforming mortgages that government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase and market as securities. The limit was raised from $417,000 to as high as $729,750 in expensive parts of the country such as New York and California.

Fannie Mae has been offering 90-day commitments on purchases of larger mortgages since April 1, said spokesman Brian Faith.