ORLANDO (November 9, 2012) – Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to play a crucial role in the secondary mortgage market and remain focused on supporting the ongoing housing market recovery while laying the groundwork for a better future housing finance system.
Realtors® and attendees at the Regulatory Issues Forum – Housing Finance Today and Tomorrow session today during the 2012 Realtors® Conference and Expo gained insights into today’s secondary mortgage market and the future of housing finance in the U.S.
“Fannie Mae has been a leading source of liquidity since the start of the economic crisis and we are working hard to support the ongoing housing market recovery,” said Timothy J. Mayopoulos, president and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae. He said Fannie’s priorities are to fund the mortgage market, help troubled borrowers, and build a strong book of business to return taxpayers’ investment in the company.
Mayopoulos said Fannie is now managed in the overall interest of taxpayers and no longer for the benefit of private shareholders. He said its financial condition has improved significantly; they currently have a strong book of business and have already paid $28 billion in dividends to the Treasury Department.
Mayopoulos said Fannie remains dedicated to ensuring qualified homebuyers have access to affordable mortgage capital and helping troubled borrowers stay in their homes through loan modifications and refinancings and avoid foreclosure; this supports neighborhoods, the housing market and home prices. He said the organization seeks to have servicers intervene earlier and to offer borrowers alternatives to foreclosure that require less documentation and easier implementation. Efforts have also been made to streamline short sale transactions and speed response and approval timelines.
While Fannie and Freddie played a key role during the housing downturn and continue to provide critical market liquidity, Mayopoulos said the extent of the GSEs’ participation in housing finance must decrease if the market is to function properly.
“We’ve taken steps to attract more private capital to the market, but private capital is opportunistic and leans in when things are good and out when things are bad,” said Mayopoulos. “There remains little evidence of substantial private capital ready to meet market need, and we continue to be concerned about market capacity.”
He said lenders are reluctant to extend credit because of repurchase risks, regulatory concerns and lack of underwriting capacity. The industry must address these issues and Fannie will continue to try to do their part.
Wanda DeLeo, deputy director at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has held Fannie and Freddie in conservatorship since 2008, agreed that the GSEs must reduce their footprint in the mortgage market. She said that since being placed into conservatorship, the GSEs have twice raised guarantee fees, which they believe is helping reduce taxpayers’ risk from the financial support they provide the GSEs and will move their pricing closer to what it would be if mortgage credit risk was borne solely by private capital. DeLeo said this could also incentivize private capital to increase participation in the mortgage market.
“In the four years since FHFA established conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie, we have made significant strides toward maintaining a housing market recovery, keeping individuals in their homes, and correcting the issues that led to the enterprises being placed into conservatorship,” said DeLeo.
FHFA recently released a whitepaper outlining a series of strategies and initiatives that it hopes will improve mortgage processes, encourage greater private market participation, and lay the foundation for a post-conservatorship housing finance market.
DeLeo said the whitepaper sets forth three strategic goals for transitioning to a secondary mortgage market of the future. The first is to build a new infrastructure and common securitization platform for the secondary mortgage market that could be used by multiple issuers and supports the participation of private capital. The plan also gradually shrinks the GSEs’ operations and presence in the marketplace, and lastly maintains foreclosure prevention activities and credit availability for both new and refinanced mortgages.
FHFA is seeking input on the proposal from the industry and public until December 3.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.