The White House should create a new position, a housing policy coordinator, whose role would be to coordinate among the various agencies and regulators who are making policies that affect housing. This position should not create new programs, rules and regulations, but rather ensure that as new rules are created, they donít conflict to cause unintended downstream effects. It is imperative that we have someone committed solely to managing the complicated policies and regulations that affect the real-estate finance industry and protect consumers.
Also, we must have a transparent, substantive debate over the future of the government-sponsored enterprises. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in conservatorship in 2008, with the goal of winding down their involvement in the housing market. Yet, since then, very little has been done and today they touch two out of every three mortgages in this country. We are way past addressing their future if we want to properly balance the markets. When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac develop new policies and products, or change existing ones, they have an instant and dramatic impact on the nationís housing market, and thus they ought to be subject to same transparency and a process similar to those used by other federal government entities.
This is not a partisan issue. Republican and Democrats both want a healthy, prosperous housing market led first by private capital. Reforming the FHA and creating policies that support private capital will only help achieve this goal. Congress took seriously its role to help ease the tension in the financial markets when it passed Dodd-Frank. Now is the time to remove uncertainty in the marketplace so that real-estate finance takes off and housing once again becomes a cornerstone of a vibrant economy.
David H. Stevens is president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. He previously served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of housing/federal housing commissioner at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.