The June edition of At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center’s reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes updated indicators related to credit availability, the state of the GSE portfolios, and the latest mortgage origination and housing market projections.
The FHA has been taking actions to reduce lender overlays, enhancing access to credit. Among these measures is the introduction of Supplemental Performance Metrics, to accompany the inflexible Lender Compare Ratios. In this article we reiterate the need for this type of metric, applaud the FHA for proposing it, and suggest a slight variation to make it even more effective.
Urban Institute fellow Jim Parrott and guest Jim Millstein discuss the prospect of long-term administrative reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The discussion begins with Parrott's commentary, "Why Long-Term GSE Reform Requires Congress" and continues with Millstein's blog post, "It's time for administrative reform to end the GSE conservatorships."
During negotiations over the bill to reform the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) that was recently passed out of the Senate Banking Committee, some stakeholders and policymakers argued that the better course was to pursue long term GSE reform administratively. In this commentary, Jim Parrott explains why that can’t be done. Leaving the enterprises in conservatorship permanently is unhealthy for the market and unduly risky for both the enterprises and the taxpayer. Yet bringing them out of conservatorship would be cataclysmic for the enterprises and market alike. The only path available on long term reform thus leads through the halls of Congress.
At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center's monthly chartbook, provides timely metrics on the state of the housing market and examines public policy's role in housing finance. May’s issue includes updated measures of new securities issuance, GSE guaranty fees, and mortgage insurance activity.
Goodman and Zhu analyze whether HAMP resets are an issue and conclude reset fears are overblown. They find that the first of the resets which will occur in the fourth quarter of 2014 are likely manageable. They expect the first substantial defaults to be in 2016 and likely to accelerate in 2017. This will be short-lived, as the number of resets and hence defaults will shrink considerably in 2018 and plunge in 2019. Goodman and Zhu estimate an increase of 10% increase in the default rate, with 40-50% of affected borrowers receiving an additional modification, suggesting a 5-6% increase in defaults at the resets.
After Congressman Mel Watt was sworn in as the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on January 6 of this year, he offered a few words of thanks and assurance and then promptly disappeared from the scene. This week, Director Watt broke the silence, giving his first major public speech as director. For the remarks, see here. Signaling the importance and range of his inaugural remarks, Watt used them to announce a revision of the agency's Strategic Plan and Scorecard, the policy documents that together provide both the vision of the agency and a set of incentives to push the leadership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises or the GSEs) to fulfill that vision.
Defenders of the status quo have become an increasingly strong voice in the GSE reform debate in recent weeks. In this article, Mark Zandi and Jim Parrott argue that the status quo is unhealthy and bound to deteriorate further without reform, resulting in higher mortgage rates and tighter credit.
Over the past several years, a consensus has developed on the goals of GSE Reform: preserve the liquidity of the mortgage market while protecting the taxpayer by putting private capital in a first loss position, retain wide access to long-term fixed rate mortgages, provide access and equity for lenders of all sizes, and support affordable housing. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) released new draft legislation in March 2014 striving to achieve these goals. While this bipartisan proposal is a major step forward for housing finance reform, we suggest improvements in two critical areas: the structure of the private capital in the first loss position and the affordable housing incentive fee provisions. In both cases, the system as proposed has intellectual appeal, but is apt to have unintended and undesirable consequences.