Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

January 5, 2016

The Duty to Serve Underserved Markets

By David Reiss

Riverview Homes Inc

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Request for Comments regarding Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets.  The “Enterprises” are Fannie and Freddie and this duty to serve is a highly contested one, with some on the right blaming it for pretty much the whole financial crisis and some on the left arguing that it is the key rationale for keeping the government involved in the mortgage market.

This debate is complicated by the fact that Fannie and Freddie are in conservatorship for the foreseeable future. Whatever one believes the duty to serve should be for the two companies if they were operating independently, one might have a different view of it while they are operating as government instrumentalities.

The Notice provides the following summary:

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) amended the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 (Safety and Soundness Act) to establish a duty for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (collectively, the Enterprises) to serve three specified underserved markets—manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets—to increase the liquidity of mortgage investments and improve the distribution of investment capital available for mortgage financing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in those markets. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is issuing and seeking comments on a proposed rule that would provide Duty to Serve credit for eligible Enterprise activities that facilitate a secondary market for mortgages related to: Manufactured homes titled as real property; blanket loans for certain categories of manufactured housing communities; preserving the affordability of housing for renters and homebuyers; and housing in rural markets. The proposed rule would establish a method for evaluating and rating the Enterprises’ compliance with the Duty to Serve each underserved market.

Written comments must be received on or before March 17, 2016, so get crackin’.

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