Multifamily Anticipates Potential Fannie, Freddie Restructurings

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor Washington, D.C.—Debate continues about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Congress and the future Obama administration would be likely to restructure the two entities and in doing so consider the economic crisis and conflicts between the companies’ mission to support the housing market and their need for profits. David Cardwell, Vice President of Capital Markets and Technology, has told MHN that the apartment industry has an interest in seeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue as private companies. Whatever the eventual structure of the two entities, the multifamily industry has a big interest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s continuing to provide liquidity to the industry and keep interest rates low. “Historically, 30 percent or more of all households in U.S. live in apartments, so you cannot talk about housing in U.S. without talking about apartments,” argued Jeffrey Friedman, chairman, president and CEO of Associated Estates Realty Corp. “What Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has done very successfully is that by providing a steady and reliable source of financing for apartments they have improved housing affordability in the U.S.”Friedman said he has not noticed a change in the GSEs’ operations since they were taken over by the government in September. He surmised that to the extent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to be a part of the government, that would help keep borrowing costs for apartments low. As much a 90 percent of the long-term financing in the multifamily industry is currently said to come from these two Government-Sponsored Enterprises.