Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

March 18, 2016

Fannie & Freddie’s Duty to Serve

By David Reiss

Alan Cleaver

The Federal Housing Finance Agency had issued a request for comments on a proposed rulemaking back in December about Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets. Comments were due yesterday. I drafted a short comment letter on one of the many topics raised by the rulemaking. The abstract reads,

The FHFA has requested input on its proposed rule that would provide a Duty to Serve credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (The Enterprises) for eligible activities that facilitate a secondary mortgage market for mortgages related to preserving the affordability of housing for homebuyers, among other things.  I write to comment regarding the preservation of affordable homeownership through shared equity homeownership programs.

The Proposed Rule requires that each Objective of an Underserved Markets Plan be measurable in order to determine whether it has been achieved by the Enterprise.  The Proposed Rule requires that these programs “promote successful homeownership.” § 1282.34(d)(4)(iii).  While the Proposed Rule addresses ways that ensure that housing remains affordable for future owners after resale, it does not offer a way to measure successful or sustainable homeownership for participants while they are in a shared equity program.

The FHFA should require that the Enterprises measure the tenure of homeowners participating in shared equity programs and disallow Duty to Serve credit if participants fail to maintain their housing for reasonable length of time.  While this comment is being made in the context of shared equity programs, it applies with equal force to all homeownership programs that are counted for Duty to Serve purposes.

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