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WASHINGTON, DC—The Trump administration has released a long-awaited and comprehensive plan that would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and also restructure the caps on multifamily lending by the GSEs.

In some ways this is familiar territory for the market—privatizing the GSEs would essentially mean returning them to the status they had before they were taken into conservatorship during the financial crisis. And the Administration has made clear that the backstop would continue after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are privatized. Overall, however, the goal of the plan is to limit the GSEs’ role in housing finance.

Some elements of the plan could take years to implement, but there are also administrative steps that can be taken right now to nudge things along, according to Alex Pollock, R Street Institute Finance Senior Fellow and former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. For example, the capital requirements for Fannie and Freddie could be increased and regulations that especially favor the GSEs over competitors could be removed, he says.

Changes to Multifamily Lending

The plan also calls for a revamp of how the cap on multifamily lending is calculated. The proposal notes that the exemptions to the cap—in particular green energy loans—have allowed GSE multifamily lending to grow unabated. The report says that: “In part because of these broad exemptions, the caps have not been effective in limiting the GSEs’ multifamily footprint. The GSEs have grown from owning or guaranteeing 25% of outstanding multifamily debt in early 2008 to almost 40% today. That share could climb, as the GSEs have acquired approximately 50% of recent multifamily originations.”

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Erika Morphy

Erika Morphy has been writing about commercial real estate at GlobeSt.com for more than ten years, covering the capital markets, the Mid-Atlantic region and national topics. She's a nerd so favorite examples of the former include accounting standards, Basel III and what Congress is brewing.

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