The Trump administration transition team has already announced their selections for positions that will heavily impact the housing and mortgage industry such as HUD Secretary and Treasury Secretary, but one position that has yet to be announced is that of FHA Commissioner. Currently, several names have been thrown into the ring to follow behind FHA Acting Commissioner, Biniam Gebre including Debra Still, President and Chief Executive of Pulte Mortgage, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey), and Ed Brady, Chairman of the Board for the National Association of Home Builders.
DS News spoke with Brady, who shared his perspective on the work that needs to be done in housing policy.
What can you confirm about the possibility of your selection as FHA Commissioner?
They have reached out to me as part of the transition, and I am sure they are reaching out to industry advocates as well. I have talked to members of the transition team about this position specifically.
If chosen as the administration’s selection for FHA Commissioner, what are some of the issues or policies you would like to FHA take a focus on?
Part of the reason I am interested in this is because my industry was on the ground during the crisis, building houses and working with customers. FHA was a lifeline to mortgages during the peak of the crisis and I understand how important FHA is to the housing finance system, not only with the first-time buyer or low down-payment buyer but counter cyclical to the economic environment. FHA really provided an outlet for people to still stay in business. I think that we can obviously look at any of the agencies and try and figure out how to streamline them. Being in the building industry, I understand some of the bureaucratic constraints that sometimes get in the way of moving efficiently through the process, even in the FHA single-family insurance projects. I think that streamlining and looking for efficiencies in how to become user-friendly as the largest mortgage company in the world is certainly the first step but making sure that we are meeting the mission of which FHA was founded right after the Great Depression when people couldn't hang onto their homes without this type of product.
In looking at housing policy on a broader spectrum, what issues are you hoping the new administration will make their focus?
As a long-term advocate for housing and what housing provides to this country and being a small businessman for over 28 years, I think the government needs to allow small business professionals to do their job and not get in the way of overregulating and creating too many hurdles for a small business person to provide the product. Certainly, in our industry, we feel like we have been overregulated to the point where we can't provide the product and it's becoming more and more difficult to provide affordable housing (first-time homebuyer housing or affordable rental housing). We are hopeful that this administration will look at some of those regulations and step back on them so that we can do our jobs.
We also have to look at GSE reform and hopefully protect the consistent and predictable system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being in conservatorship for the last eight years is not acceptable, and we need to provide enough support for Congress to take action and create a housing finance system that is sustainable, safe, sound, and certain for the American people. We look forward to working with this administration as we have in the past in trying to advocate for GSE reform.
Finally, as the demand increases, we are having more and more constraints on the labor force. We need to work with this administration to make sure that Trump and his administration tackle immigration reform, that we are protecting our skilled workers and providing legal, talented workers to produce the product that the demand is asking for.