A look at Fannie Mae’s Here to Help initiative
Today’s HousingWire Daily features a crossover with the Housing News podcast, where HousingWire Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler interviews the chief marketing officer at Fannie Mae, Steve James. During the episode, James talks about how he helped mobilize the company’s Here to Help initiative, during the COVID-19 pandemic and what challenges they had to overcome.
He also gives some insight into what marketing strategies look like for a company as highly regulated as Fannie Mae, and what previous crises the GSE learned from as they dealt with COVID-19..
Here is a small preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
Sarah Wheeler: Looking ahead – what is next for Fannie Mae’s marketing efforts? Do you hope to expand beyond resources to deal with pandemic-related disruption and serve as a guide to would-be homebuyers?
Steve James: We’re in a strange place because we’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic as there’s still a health crisis. There’s also still an economic crisis, although it’s not nearly as bad as we expected. While it seems to be getting better, the pandemic has caused a lot of damage from a housing perspective and it’s going to take years to fix. Prior to the pandemic, housing supply was way behind and coming into the pandemic it’s only gotten worse, especially for very low-income homeowners or people who want to buy a home. It’s very challenging for this demographic to find a house right now, even more so for minorities as the gap in homeownership between Blacks and Whites has only gotten worse. When you layer housing prices with low supply, in my mind, we’re still in a crisis, and we should partner with folks in the industry to help Americans get through this as it’s going to take a long time. We now need to figure out what are the next steps to help renters or those who want to become homeowners.
Fannie Mae has done some of this by expanding our outreach…Also,
just very recently, we launched positive rent payment history, which is really going to help renters become homeowners. Now in mortgage credit evaluations, we are able to give people credit for their positive rent payment history as they’ve been making payments for years and it’s just like a mortgage payment. So, there’s a lot we can do to help continued problems at the outset, but it’s going to take a lot of partnership across the industry with a lot of us working together to solve these problems.
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