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Former Treasury housing advisor Craig Phillips joining HouseCanary

Joins appraisal tech firm as senior advisor

Craig Phillips, who served as Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top housing advisor and the Trump administration’s point person on reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before stepping down in 2019, has a new job in the housing industry.

Phillips will be joining HouseCanary, a provider of software and analytics for the real estate industry that specializes in valuations and appraisals, as a senior advisor.

According to the company, Phillips will be working with CEO and Founder Jeremy Sicklick and the senior team at HouseCanary to help the company in its mission to automate real estate appraisals.

Phillips left the Treasury Department in Summer 2019, stepping down before enacting major changes at Fannie and Freddie.

Phillips joined the administration in 2017, signing on as Mnuchin’s top housing advisor after leaving BlackRock. At Blackrock, Phillips served as head of financial markets advisory and client solutions.

According to Phillips’ BlackRock bio, he joined the company in 2008. Previously, Phillips served as a managing director of Morgan Stanley from 1994 to 2006. While at Morgan Stanley, he worked in the company’s Fixed Income division, and was responsible for oversight of its global Securitized Products Group.

The New York Times described Phillips as a “veteran Wall Street mortgage trader,” and it was believed that his mortgage-related experience would help the administration pursue GSE reform.

Despite speaking out on multiple occasions about the administration’s plans to reform Fannie and Fannie, Phillips left the Treasury before the administration moved to begin the process of ending the conservatorship of the GSEs.

Craig Phillips

And now, Phillips is joining HouseCanary at what the company calls a “pivotal time” in the mortgage industry. The company cites the recent change to the real estate appraisal rules.

Last year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve approved a policy that increased the threshold for needing a real estate appraisal from $250,000 to $400,000. That was the first time the threshold had been raised since 1994.

Under the policy, certain home sales of $400,000 and below will no longer require an appraisal.

The new rules do not apply to loans wholly or partially insured or guaranteed by, or eligible for sale to, a government agency or government-sponsored agency.

What that means is that loans sold to or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac still require an appraisal, per each agency or companies’ rules.

But the rule does apply to loans that are either held in portfolio by lenders or sold to secondary market investors via the private-label securitization market.

Companies like HouseCanary, which provides automated property valuations, stand to benefit from this change.

Investors seem to see the appeal of HouseCanary, as the company raised $65 million earlier this month.

“I am honored to have Craig join HouseCanary in this strategically important role,” Sicklick said. “Craig is a proven leader and pioneer in the mortgage and banking industry. His background in innovation, the private and public sector, and regulatory and financial systems are an asset to HouseCanary as we continue to build the most accurate valuations in the housing industry.”

Phillips said that he is excited to join HouseCanary at such a unique time in the housing business.

“Technology changes will likely enable a disruption of the traditional appraisal process as we now know it, benefitting both consumers and lenders,” Phillips said. “HouseCanary has developed industry-leading analytics that have the ability to support a frictionless home purchase and borrowing experience. I’m excited to join at this period of growth and innovation for the company and the industry.”

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