Coming out the recession, opportunistic investors aren't just flipping houses. They're scooping up mortgages as well, reports MarketWatch's Andrea Riquier.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are helping drive the trend.

As government entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have struggled with the legacies of the housing bust, they’ve sold billions of dollars of delinquent notes to big institutional investors, who resell them in turn.

These loans, totaling more than $28 billion, are going from Fannie and Freddie through private equity, like Lone Star Funds, Goldman Sachs, and Fortress Investments, to companies like Colonial Capital Management to smaller investors.

While there is room for misdeed, these loans falling into the hands of smaller investors can also help home owners, writes Riquier.

Delinquent notes can be bought cheaply, often for about a third of a home’s market value. Note buyers get an investment that’s more like a financial asset — and less dirty than the landlord’s world of “tenants and toilets.”

Meanwhile, investors can often afford to cut homeowners a significant break, avoiding foreclosure while still making a profit.

And there’s government money for the taking in the name of helping homeowners. Since the housing crisis, the federal government has allocated nearly $10 billion to states deemed hardest-hit by the bust. Those states funnel the money to borrowers, often to help them reach new agreements with their lenders.

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