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NAHB Task Force on Housing Finance Reform Seeking Input from Association Members

An NAHB task force that is in the process of evaluating the association’s policy on the housing finance system is looking for input from NAHB members to gain their views on the availability of credit for home buyers and home builders and the role of the housing government-sponsored enterprises.

The task force was recently convened by NAHB President Bobby Rayburn and President-elect David Wilson to ensure that the association continues to represent the true needs of its membership at a time when the entire secondary housing finance market has come under intense scrutiny because of accusations of improper accounting practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Chaired by Gary Garczynski, who was the president of NAHB in 2002, the task force is comprised of NAHB members and supported by a team of NAHB staff from the legislative, regulatory and housing finance policy areas. The task force is receiving formal advice and input from mortgage market experts, policy analysts and representatives of the various factions in this issue. It will present its formal recommendations during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando in January.

With the White House, some lawmakers and other government officials calling for sweeping changes in how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are operated and supervised, NAHB this year has been instrumental in blocking some initiatives that would have had a negative impact on the cost and availability of housing credit.

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The new Congress is expected to give a high priority to this issue, and the White House is looking for more immediate ways to strengthen the authority of the government agencies that currently regulate the GSEs. Everything is on the table in the minds of reform advocates: the mission of the GSEs, the activities they can perform, restrictions on their borrowing abilities and reserves, and the policing power of their regulators. There have also been proposals to transform the GSEs into completely private corporations.

As advocates of reform intensify their efforts, the NAHB task force is investigating methods for delivering capital to the housing sector and it wants to identify the process that would provide the most reliable and least costly supply of housing credit. The task force is also assessing the appropriate involvement of the federal government in the housing credit system.

The task force is looking for feedback from NAHB members on questions such as these:

  • Should the federal government be playing a role in the housing finance system and, if so, should that role be in its current form of ultimate guarantor and backstop, or should the role be more explicit, such as a provider of direct subsidies?
  • What would happen if Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks were required to limit their activities to affordable housing instead of the entire range of home purchases? Is their presence critical or just convenient?
  • What would be the impact on home buyers and builders if mortgage interest rates increased by half a percentage point as a result of reform efforts?
  • Are there gaps or unmet needs in the current housing finance system?

Any thoughts or concerns on these and other topics related to GSE reform should be e-mailed to David Crowe, senior staff vice president in NAHB’s Federal Regulatory and Housing Policy Department, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8383.

Comments from NAHB members will be presented to the task force and must be received by Dec. 15.

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