The Senate could be on the verge of housing finance reform as it is working on a bill that would place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into receivership.
Thursday afternoon, policymakers examined a plan from the Federal Housing Finance Agency that could turn Fannie and Freddie into utilities with access to an explicit government guarantee against catastrophic loss, an article by Ian McKendry for American Banker explained.
However, sources close to the situation explained the Senate bill would differ significantly from the FHFA’s proposal, according to the article. It would replace the GSEs with at least 10 private-market guarantors.
From the article:
Overall, the outline being discussed appears to be a move further to the right, likely an effort to encourage more conservative support among Republicans leery of the GSEs. It also likely puts it more in line with what House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is planning. But it runs the risk of alienating moderate Democrats who must sign off on any final package to clear the Senate.
Some of the changes that would occur under the Senate’s bill include new mortgage guarantors which would be created after Fannie and Freddie are placed into receivership. There are no restrictions on the number of guarantors.
From the article:
The Senate plan would instead center around a mortgage assistance fee to give guarantors an incentive to make loans in underserved areas. That fee would not impose, however, a strict requirement to serve those markets.
Back in September, U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said GSE reform would be an issue addressed in 2018.
So while this bill may or may not be the final reform that passes through Congress, many are expecting some version of GSE reform will happen in 2018.