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Calabria to Senate: Don’t expect any changes to GSE multifamily business

FHFA director nominee says GSEs’ multifamily business is healthy

While Mark Calabria could very well enact some significant changes at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if he’s approved to serve as the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Calabria told a Senate panel this week that there likely won’t be any changes to the way that Fannie and Freddie operate in the multifamily space.

Given Calabria’s history as an “outspoken critic” of Fannie and Freddie, much of his Thursday hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs focused on his feelings and opinions towards the government-sponsored enterprises’ role in single-family housing, both in the past and moving forward.

And while multifamily wasn’t the main topic of discussion, it wasn’t forgotten entirely.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., broached the subject of the GSEs’ place in the multifamily market during his questioning of Calabria, and the bottom line for both men appeared to be “do no harm” to the multifamily side of the business.

“Multifamily performed well during the crisis,” Calabria said in response to a question about the history of the GSEs’ multifamily business. “I don’t think we need the same kinds of changes on the multifamily side that we need on the single-family side.”

That sentiment may not come as much of a surprise to close observers.

When Calabria was first rumored to be the Trump administration’s choice to lead the FHFA, analysts at Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods suggested that Calabria’s impact on the GSEs’ multifamily business would likely be limited, even citing Jared Kushner’s influence in the administration and his family’s real estate business as reasons that the Trump administration may not want to mess with what’s working in multifamily.

That will probably come as welcome news to the multifamily market, considering the GSEs’ growing place in the market.

Both GSEs reported Thursday that their multifamily business grew significantly in 2018. Freddie Mac grew its multifamily portfolio $33 billion in 2018, while Fannie Mae grew its portfolio by nearly $30 billion over the course of the year.

And it appears there aren’t any signs of things slowing down.

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