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NAR President: "We want GSE reform to take place now"

housingwire.com | March 23, 2014

By Brena Swanson

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae reform talk is not only on the table, but it is at the top of the pile for discussion.

“For years now there has been talk about the need for GSE reform,” said Steve Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors, in an interview with HousingWire. “Prior to the Great Recession, there were probably very few Realtors who understood what a government-sponsored enterprise was. They knew there was a Freddie and a Fannie, but they did not totally understand it since it was always there.”

However, this time the discussion carries a lot more weight.

For starters, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, announced that they have reached an agreement on a housing finance reform proposal.

And in light of that, the White House is listening and seeking input with more intent.

Several prominent people in housing like NAR, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the Independent Community Bankers of America, met at the White House with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Sean Donovan and the National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients for the first of many roundtable discussions on GSE reform.

“The White House is reaching out to all aspect of the housing and mortgage industry in order to address all of the concerns,” Brown said. “The meeting was a great start and I look forward to the rest of the process.”

Brown explained that NAR recognizes that the GSE structure itself needs to be reformed. “We want to see reform go ahead and take place now. By settling this issue, it will bring stability to this market, which is critical. The Great Recession shows that there are imperfections.”

While Brown outlined several provisions that they like, including having a federal loan guarantee, there are distinct concerns for NAR.

For one, mortgage credit is tight. People are finding it very challenging to get a loan, Brown said, and any reform needs to enhance the availability of credit and not tighten it.

Also, the price of mortgages are not getting cheaper. The cost could be passed down to the buyers and the consumer. “We do not want to see the cost of mortgage financing increasing,” Brown said.

Ultimately, Brown stressed that no matter what side people sit on, housing is not a partisan issue.

“It affects every America. Whether you are republican or democrat people’s financial investments will be protected and maintained. This reform we set going forward,” Brown said. “We are optimistic that Congress will recognize that we need to deal with this, and it will benefit every real estate in the economy.”

 

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