Lenders See Fannie, Freddie Takeover as Needed
If perception is reality, early returns from a recent survey of key lenders suggests that both Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) may have been in worse condition that some of us might want to believe. A survey conducted by MORTECH LLC, a research firm, found that lenders overwhelmingly -- to the tune of 75 percent of those surveyed -- believe the government had good reason to intervene in the operations of the GSEs. "We have been surveying lenders for more than twenty years," said Jeff Lebowitz, publisher of the annual survey on lender behavior and technology use.. "In our surveys, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac always found a great deal of grass roots support from the average mortgage lender. For an overwhelming majority of lenders to say that the federal takeover of the GSE's was necessary, their on-the-ground experience must have contradicted their long held faith in the mission of the agencies." The firm has completed 116 company interviews for its annual survey thus far, Lebowitz said. While the consensus clearly shows lenders believe the GSEs needed to be placed into conservatorship, survey respondents are much less in agreement that they -- or the public -- will benefit from the federal intervention. In general, lenders doubt that doing business with the GSE's will be easier. More than half of those surveyed see the singular benefit of Treasury intervention as improved liquidity, but don't think the added liquidity will result in lower interest rates. Two-thirds think transacting business with the GSEs will become more costly, and a full 80 percent said they believe it will become harder to qualify non-traditional borrowers for loans. "The GSE intervention focused on financial policy and was not aimed at reengineering transaction flows in the mortgage industry," commented Lebowitz. "In our interviews, lenders foresee the unintended fallout of intervention leaving non-traditional borrowers shut out of the market. FHA lending will help. Yet the lenders' consensus is that either alternative mortgage structures or funds for expanding home ownership in this country will be destroyed." For more information, visit http://www.mortech-llc.com. Write to Paul Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.