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Something Smells: Government & Fannie Mae Want To Help Housing Investors

Last week I interviewed an investor who buys foreclosed properties and rents them out long-term for solid returns. He claims that's the only way to right the housing market — get long-term investors to eat up the excess inventory. The biggest roadblock, however, is credit. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both limit the number of investor mortgages. Fuse | Getty Images Multiple sources now tell me that the Administration, specifically over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is considering ways to get more investors into the housing market, possibly with the help of Fannie and Freddie. HUD would not confirm that, but Fannie Mae's chief economist Doug Duncan said it is definitely on the table both at HUD and at Fannie. "We're certainly exploring the opportunities to expand that," said Duncan in an interview, cautioning, "the data in our own portfolio show that when you get to a certain number, like ten is the number we've chosen, if there's any default issue, all the loans go bad at the same time, so at the present time we have two mandates, one is to help provide liquidity and help with funding, but the second is to protect taxpayers as well." No question that any such program would have to require investors to have significant skin in the game, that is, large down payments on all properties, and perhaps a designated capital reserve level to protect against losses.

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