WASHINGTON - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Citigroup Inc. announced yesterday that they will suspend foreclosures and evictions during the holidays.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae said they have ordered mortgage servicers and foreclosure attorneys to suspend foreclosure sales for occupied single-family homes owned by the government-controlled companies from tomorrow through Jan. 3.

Tenants living in foreclosed properties backed by Fannie Mae mortgages will also not be subject to evictions during the holiday time frame, according to Fannie Mae.

Citigroup Inc. said yesterday it would suspend foreclosures and evictions for 30 days, until Jan. 17, for roughly 4,000 borrowers.

The lender said the suspension, which applies only to borrowers who have loans with Citigroup, would start today.

Citigroup expects that the national suspension will affect approximately 2,000 borrowers scheduled for foreclosure sales and another 2,000 that were to receive foreclosure notifications in the next 30 days.

According to a Treasury report, Citigroup has started 103,478 three-month temporary modifications in an Obama administration program.

Meanwhile, a report released yesterday said that about 1.7 million homeowners were on the verge of foreclosure in the fall, a looming "shadow inventory" of homes that will be put up for sale in the coming years and weigh down prices.

The number, up from 1.1 million a year earlier, is likely to keep rising through the middle of next year or later, said Mark Fleming, chief economist of First American CoreLogic, the real-estate-research firm that released the study.

Already, the foreclosure backlog is equal to nearly half the 3.8 million unsold new and existing homes on the market, First American said.

"We're going to be dealing with high levels of distressed [sales] in the marketplace for at least a couple of years," Fleming said. "It's not just all going to disappear."