WASHINGTON, DC-More worrisome signs that the GSEs’ current model is not sustainable: Fannie Mae is asking for $15 billion in emergency Treasury aid for the fourth time since it, along with Freddie Mac, has gone into conservatorship. Fannie Mae made the request in an SEC filing, along with a request to sell $2.6 billion of the $5.2 billon in Low Income Housing Tax credits that it has accumulated, but has been unable to use since it is no longer profitable. Goldman Sachs Group, according to news reports, is one of the potential buyers, but Treasury has yet to approve the deal. Speculation is that, at least in part, Treasury is hesitating over the move because it might be portrayed as yet another government handout to a Wall Street investment bank.
Fannie Mae’s troubles, which it shows little ability to resolve, are stoking fears yet again among multifamily borrowers and developers–which have come to rely almost entirely on the two GSEs and HUD for financing–that Congress and the Administration are going to make changes to the model, to the detriment of the industry. “I think once the health care debate is settled one way or another, housing is going to be front and center,” one executive at a multifamily finance company tells GlobeSt.com.
The options, as outlined by the GAO, in a recent report, fall along three tracts, none of which are entirely pleasing to multifamily developers. These include reconstituting the enterprises as for-profit corporations with government sponsorship, but place additional restrictions on them such as controls to minimize risk; establishing the enterprises as government corporations or agencies; and privatizing or worse, or terminating them.