The move by the Federal Housing Finance Agency is seen as a win for VantageScore, a credit-score system by VantageScore Solutions LLC, which is owned by the three large credit-reporting firms: Equifax Inc., EFX 2.06% TransUnion and Experian EXPGY -0.67% PLC.

“One of my priorities is to ensure that the American people have a safe and sound path to sustainable homeownership, which requires tools to accurately measure risk,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in a written statement. The new rule “is an important step toward achieving that goal,” he added.

Regulatory rollback legislation signed into law last year required the FHFA to set new standards for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to approve credit-score models.

Many nonbank lenders—who approve mortgages to individuals and initiate the bulk of mortgage dollars issued in the U.S.—have asked for the ability to use a credit score provided by VantageScore. These lenders say the alternative score would open the mortgage market to a greater number of people and lead to more mortgage approvals, helping to boost home sales and the economy.

Some lenders view FICO scores as an impediment since they tend to be more cautious than alternatives.  […]