Politics & Money

Industry relieved that Ginnie Mae is no longer being ignored

If Alanna McCargo is confirmed, industry insiders say that the quasi-agency will have more influence with HUD

Alanna McCargo, senior advisor at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Monday’s announcement that Alanna McCargo, senior advisor at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is up for the nomination of Ginnie Mae president put a smile on the face of the mortgage industry.

Fair housing organizations, trade groups, and former Ginnie Mae presidents all expressed relief that a qualified candidate has a solid chance to finally fill a role that has been sitting vacant since early 2017. Ginnie Mae backstopped roughly $2.1 trillion of mortgage-backed securities as of Aug. 31.

The nomination potentially “gives Ginnie more of a plug into HUD and access to the leadership of the department,” said Ted Tozer, who served as Ginnie Mae president from 2010 to 2017 and departed shortly before President Trump took office.

If McCargo is confirmed as president, she will have the opportunity “to talk to politicians and give more substance to the issues that Ginnie is trying to advocate for,” Tozer remarked.

After Tozer’s exit in early 2017, Michael Bright, the current CEO of trade group Structured Finance Association, served as the interim president from 2017 to 2019, but was never confirmed by Congress. Thus, the position sat open for almost five years.

“The good news is that it’s not often that a Ginnie Mae president has a seat at the table on housing policy matters,” added Dave Stevens, a former FHA commissioner. “Ginnie has been functioning without a president ever since Ted [Tozer] left, so all through the Trump administration, and at least now they will have someone with leadership skills that can think around how Ginnie’s policies align with the president’s objectives and that may be helpful.”

However, Stevens said that for all the industry enthusiasm, McCargo may be criticized for her lack of a “technical” background.

“Alanna is a policy person, she was at Urban Institute working on housing policy before going to HUD, so my assumption is that she isn’t well versed in technical issues that affect Ginnie Mae convexity performance,” he said. “It really is a job that manages the currency, it’s a mortgage-backed securities job.”

Other industry stakeholders offered praise for McCargo’s knowledge of housing finance issues.

“Ginnie Mae is a critically important agency in our housing finance system, and Alanna has a deep understanding of the agency and a demonstrated track record of working with industry, government, and housing advocates on key housing policy issues,” said Bob Broeksmit, the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

And David Dworkin, CEO of the National Housing Conference, lauded the nomination, calling it “good news for the housing industry and housing advocates across the board.”

“She has decades of experience working with a broad range of stakeholders,” Dworkin said. “She has a deep understanding of the business imperatives and is committed to ensuring that these needs also meet the needs of the FHA’s diverse borrower base.”

Tozer said that if confirmed, McCargo will have a series of institutional challenges to address, problems that have festered at a leaderless quasi-agency. He predicted a “secession of management, many of whom are in the verge of retirement.” Additionally, he said that McCargo will “have to deal with issues developing around risk management and oversight of independent mortgage bankers.”

McCargo’s career has predominantly focused on using data and information to better understand housing disparities and how to bridge the homeownership gap. The nomination is in line with the administration’s agenda of promoting fair housing initiatives.

She now joins Julia Gordon, nominated in June to serve as the federal housing commissioner at HUD, in the waiting game of being confirmed.

The nomination of Rohit Chopra, who was tapped by Biden to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, may also move forward now that the administration has picked his replacement on the board of the Federal Trade Commission.

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