The economy isn’t back to normal quite yet, but “we are seeing signs of recovery in the housing market across a number of dimensions,” Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), testified last week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
DeMarco noted that net income for Freddie Mac amounted to $4.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012—which marked the fifth consecutive quarter for positive earnings. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 for Fannie Mae totaled $7.6 billion—the fourth consecutive quarter for positive earnings, DeMarco told the Senate committee.
DeMarco also cited National Association of REALTORS® data that pointed to a constrained inventory of for-sale homes at about a 4.7 months worth of supply; a year earlier that number stood at a 6.4 months supply. He also said the FHFA index shows that national home prices rose 6.5 percent for the 12-month period ending in January.
DeMarco said that the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) remain dedicated to foreclosure prevention. He testified that, since 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have completed more than 1.3 million permanent loan modifications, more than 665,000 repayment plans, and nearly 150,000 forbearance plans. Together, he said, the GSEs have helped 2.2 million families who were struggling to make their mortgage payments to remain in their homes.
DeMarco also testified about the role the government should play in housing finance going forward.
“The key question in housing finance reform is what, and how large, should the role of the federal government be?” he testified to the Senate committee. “While it is ultimately up to lawmakers to provide an answer, in my opinion the main purpose in addressing housing finance reform should be to promote the efficient provision of credit to finance mortgagees for single-family and multifamily housing. An efficient market system for providing mortgage credit to people who want to buy a house should have certain core characteristics: it should provide consumer choice, it should provide consumer protections, it should allow for innovation by market participants, and it should facilitate transparency.”
Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency