Mortgage pros demand that Congress address housing-finance reform now

by Ryan Smith19 Jan 2018
Now that the tax reform bill has been signed into law, mortgage professionals are urging Congress to make overhauling housing finance a top priority.

“Congress has avoided addressing the last piece of unfinished business from the 2008 financial crisis – reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Fowler Williams, president and CEO of Crescent Mortgage Company and the Mortgage Bankers Association’s state ambassador for Georgia. “Tax reform has been signed by the president, so Congress must now shift its focus to creating a vibrant and sustainable housing-finance system.”

After teetering on the brink of insolvency during the 2008 financial meltdown, both Fannie and Freddie were placed under government conservatorship and given a $187 billion cash infusion in order to stay afloat. The conservatorship was meant to be a temporary patch – but Fannie and Freddie are still under federal control nearly a decade later.

Williams said reform needs to be front and center on Congress’s docket – especially has home prices continue to climb.

“Home and rent prices are increasing in Georgia – especially in Atlanta, where housing prices have hit record highs – and they’re only expected to rise further,” he said. “Prospective homeowners and builders are often unable to borrow, even as demand continues to rise.”

In April, the MBA released a white paper detailing its own plan to reform the housing-finance system, involving multiple guarantors and the infusion of private capital into the system. The plan would lessen the government’s involvement in the secondary mortgage market and expand access to credit, according to the MBA.

“Members of Congress must realize the imminent need for housing-finance reform,” Williams said. “It is imperative for the health of the housing market.”

Related stories:
Hensarling calls for dismantling of Fannie, Freddie
Mortgage bankers call for reform at MBA conference


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