FHFA Pushes Home Affordable Refis in Strategic Plan

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its first 5-year strategic plan to tackle a market riddled with collapsed home prices and increased foreclosures. It’s the first such strategic plan formed since its creation a year ago by the Housing and economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008. “Safe and sound housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) will better contribute to stabilizing the mortgage markets by further reducing foreclosures and assisting borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes,” said James Lockhart, director of FHFA, in the plan. Refinancing mortgages will become a priority. As the plan points out, the GSEs Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) participate in the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which permits refinancing for an estimated 4-5m people whose loans are owned or guaranteed by the GSEs. The refinance option may allow borrowers that currently owe between 80% and 125% of the value of their home to refinance their mortgages. The FHFA will monitor a variety of issues such as executive compensation and disclosure at the GSEs. It also plans to conserve assets of the GSEs and will monitor business decisions that will hopefully reduce debt. Fannie and Freddie currently hold $1.8trn in debt, according to the FHFA. As part of the FHFA’s plans to distribute informed and accurate market intelligence, it will expand its quarterly Housing Price Index (HPI). By producing median HPI and providing analysis of an expanded geographic coverage, FHFA said it will allow market participants to make the most informed decisions. Write to Jon Prior.

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