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Industry Reacts to Rumored Freddie Mac Move

Freddie Mac BHFreddie Mac may be moving toward backing loans that finance single-family rental (SFR) homes, according to a recent Bloomberg article. Bloomberg reported that Freddie Mac executives pressed to finance single-family rentals as early as 2012 but those efforts were halted by FHFA officials who worried that the deals might stifle bank participation in the market.

“What we are seeing is a major shift in housing policy—the recognition that single family rentals is an important segment of the housing market,” said Greg Rand, CEO of OwnAmerica, in an interview with DS News on Friday.

Rand noted however that not all housing professionals may be as welcoming of this news as he is. If the reaction to when Fannie Mae announced it was moving into SFR-financing by guaranteeing a $1 billion dollar loan to Invitation Homes is any indication, then Rand may be right.

At that time, groups like the National Association of Realtors (NAR) opposed the Fannie Mae deal on the grounds that it was subsidizing big investors at the expense of homebuyers.

“Rather than focusing on allowing well-qualified Americans to build wealth through affordable mortgage options, Fannie Mae is actively financing large institutions to compete with them,” William Brown, President of the NAR, said in a January 31 letter to Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

On the opposite side, Rand told DS News, “Policy changes from Freddie, Fannie and HUD are going to provide cheaper financing for owners, which will encourage investment and contribute to more affordable rentals for tenants. It’s disheartening that the National Association of Realtors has chosen to line up against investors because of the natural competition investors are to first time home buyers.”

Expanding on that Rand outlined he differs with NAR for the following reasons: “By lining up against investors, they are lining up against their tenants too. Renter families should have the opportunity to live in safe neighborhoods with good schools too. [Also] NAR’s membership closes 1,000,000 property transactions every year. That’s more than $3 billion in fees earned, and that pays lots of dues to NAR. It’s hypocritical to label landlords as villains.”



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