Editor: A Voice in the Future of Fannie and Freddie

The Voice for Real Estate will be heard loud and clear in the months ahead.

October 1, 2008

In September, we traveled to Denver and St. Paul, Minn., to talk with REALTORS® participating in the Democratic and Republican national conventions and learn why they became active in the political process (see page 17). Today, as I reread their comments and watch our video footage from the conventions, I can’t help think about how important REALTORS®’ political involvement will be in the months ahead. 

REALTORS® will need to advocate for a variety of housing issues in this election year and make their voices heard about the future of two of the most important entities in the residential housing sector—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Three days after the Republican convention closed, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, announced that they were placing the two secondary mortgage market agencies into a conservatorship. Immediately, I began reading and hearing the term "taxpayer bailout." 

The truth is, no one yet knows whether the action will cost the taxpayers anything. What we do know is that, after months of uncertainty, investors were pleased with the move toward a reorganized and strengthened secondary mortgage market. The stock market rallied, and a story from the Associated Press, posted on Sept. 8, quoted one investment strategist who said, "If this helps clear the way for the housing market to recover, it will filter through to the rest of the market."

Significantly, hardly anyone is talking about whether these two agencies should be saved by the federal government. There seems to be agreement that the mission of providing liquidity to the mortgage markets must be preserved. That’s a crucial point for this association, which was "there at the creation," advocating for the development of a secondary mortgage market, and which continues to be among the agencies’ strongest supporters. 

NAR released a statement from President Richard F. Gaylord on Sept. 8 saying, in part, "We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure the continued vibrancy of the secondary mortgage market."

Federal regulators and Congress will need REALTORS®’ input as they set about the task of redesigning these complex financial entities. Judging from the enthusiasm and dedication of those REALTORS® we talked with in Denver and St. Paul, The Voice for Real Estate® will be heard loud and clear in the months ahead.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.