Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria spoke Thursday at the National Association of Homebuilders International Builders’ Show and said housing reform is key to the growth of the industry.
“Many of the same warning signs that were ignored in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis have been reappearing,” Calabria said. “Not only has risk been rising in recent years, but [Fannie Mae] and [Freddie Mac] have also been undercapitalized for too long.”
He noted that the GSE’s own or guarantee $5.5 trillion in both single and multi-family mortgages—nearly half the market. Until recently, they were limited to just $6 billion in allowable capital reserves. =
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the FHFA allowed the GSEs to retain capital of up to $45 billion combined.
“This point is absolutely critical: If Fannie and Freddie fail again, liquidity in the mortgage market will dry up. If families are unable to get a mortgage, they are unable to buy houses,” Calabria said. “And when fewer people are buying houses, new or old, it hurts America’s home builders.”
While he touted the strength and growth of the economy, he said “there are reasons to believe the foundation is vulnerable.”
One of housing’s main cruxes is its falling inventory and rising home prices. Calabria said in order to build more houses there needs to be more builders. Approximately 700,000 new construction jobs have been added across the nation over the past three years.
Additionally, he said “burdensome” laws and regulations are restricting growth and affordability.
“America’s home builders deal with this challenge every day. It is a national problem with local roots. Local governments are often the source of the most burdensome regulations—like zoning and land-use restrictions, building codes, and permitting requirements,” Calabria said.
Calabria said the industry has come a long way since 2008 and the Great Recession but “that does not mean that all is well today.”
“America’s home builders know better than anyone that there is still a lot of untapped potential in our nation’s housing markets,” he said.
Calabria will join a gathering of industry experts speaking at the 2020 Five Star Government Forum, April 1, in Washington, D.C. Reserve your seat now to hear from officials, such as Calabria and the Brian Montgomery, Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner, speak on regulatory matters that are impacting the housing industry.