The following Q&A comes from the HW+ exclusive Slack channel, where HousingWire Senior Mortgage Reporter Georgia Kromrei answered questions about what is happening with federal regulators. During the Q&A, Kromrei discusses the steady flow of changes at the federal level and how it shows just how big of a priority housing regulation is with the Biden administration.
So much has happened that it has us asking, “What on earth is happening with the federal regulators?”
The following Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
HousingWire: To begin, how has the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s strategy changed from the previous administration?
Georgia Kromrei: I’ll answer it in two parts: What can we tell from the outside looking in, and what do we know about what’s happening on the inside?
So, it may be obvious to some — the previous administration at the FHFA was really all about reducing the footprint of the GSEs in the market, period.
The previous FHFA administration also took actions that were abrupt, and sometimes out of step with the mortgage industry — even bewildering, to some. The adverse market fee is a good example. At the time, some people said, “Hey, why are the GSEs charging an adverse market fee if they’re currently making money hand-over-fist?” The GSEs actually have performed really well despite the pandemic.
So, clearly, from what we’ve seen over the last two months, the FHFA under Acting Director Sandra Thompson is quite different.
Thompson appears to be more focused on the mission part of the GSEs’ role. We know that because of her public statements, her statements at listening sessions with industry stakeholders and because of actions. We’ll get to those actions a little later.
So, that’s the public part! The other part – what’s going on on the inside at FHFA – may be just as impactful in the long run.
Sources say that Thompson is quite interested in getting feedback from the housing industry. She wants to know what’s going on on the ground. She has gone on a listening tour with stakeholders and held several meetings with industry groups we know about so far. She is interested in listening to the industry — and that is a big difference.
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