NAR tells lawmakers slow down on GSE reform
Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors, criticized several government-sponsored enterprise reform bills introduced by Republican lawmakers this week, saying their introduction amounts to "moving too quickly." While speaking at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Phipps said, "today we will speak in opposition of the bills introduced because they represent a piecemeal approach to reforming the housing finance system, and effectively make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac nonviable without putting forth an adequate replacement secondary mortgage market mechanism." Rather than choking the life out of Fannie and Freddie at a rapid pace, Phipps said NAR supports a system where the GSEs would be replaced with government chartered, non-shareholder owned entities. He said those new entities would be subject to regulations on mortgage products, revenue and portfolio practices. "Unlike a federal agency, the entities will have considerable political independent and be self-sustaining given the appropriate structure," he explained. As far as how to best protect borrowers and taxpayers, Phipps said NAR believes reliance on mortgage insurance products when loans have a loan to value ratio of 80% or higher -- or use of a government guarantee or fee -- would allow the system to work by providing an outlet for some of the risks. Write to Kerri Panchuk.