Steve James on Fannie Mae’s Here to Help initiative
This week, HousingWire’s editor in chief Sarah Wheeler interviews Steve James, the Chief Marketing Officer at Fannie Mae. In this episode, James discusses the organization’s Here to help initiative, which provides resources and information to renters and homeowners in an effort to help them remain in their apartments and homes.
James also explains how he approaches innovative marketing while working at a massive and heavily regulated company, as well as what is in the pipeline for Fannie Mae’s marketing efforts.
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.
The Housing News podcast explores the most important topics happening in mortgage, real estate, and fintech. Each week a new mortgage or real estate executive joins the show to add perspective to the top stories crossing HousingWire’s news desk. Hosted by Sarah Wheeler and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.