NATNews Blog > December 2016 > FHFA issues final rule on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac duty to serve underserved markets

    FHFA issues final rule on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac duty to serve underserved markets

    12/19/2016 6:20:43 AM
    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has issued a final rule to implement the Duty to Serve provisions mandated by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  The statute requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to serve three specified underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing – by improving the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in these markets.
     
    The final rule creates complementary processes for the Enterprises to establish plans for their Duty to Serve activities to submit to FHFA, and for FHFA to annually evaluate, rate, and report to Congress each Enterprise’s compliance with its Duty to Serve obligations as required by the statute. 
     
    The final rule sets forth specific activities that the Enterprises may consider undertaking, at their discretion, to receive Duty to Serve credit, and provides that the Enterprises may propose additional activities.  The final rule does not mandate any particular activities, but requires the Enterprises to consider ways to better serve families in the three underserved markets. 

    Fannie Mae issued a statement in support of the FHFA rule.
     
    “The requirements of the Duty to Serve statute are at the core of our vision to be America’s most valued housing partner,” said Jeffery R. Hayward, Executive Vice President and Head of Multifamily, Fannie Mae. “Duty to Serve requires Fannie Mae to provide leadership to three underserved markets – improving financing for manufactured housing, supporting affordable housing preservation, and increasing service to rural areas – in order to facilitate a secondary market for mortgages for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families. We look forward to leveraging our affordable housing expertise to contribute to solutions for underserved families and make an impact on the areas and markets identified by the rule in 2017 and beyond.”
     
    Underserved Markets Plans Process
     
    Under the final rule, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will each submit to FHFA a three-year Underserved Markets Plan that describes the activities and objectives they will undertake to meet their Duty to Serve requirements.  The Plans will become effective January 2018.
     
    • For the manufactured housing market, the final rule provides eligibility for Duty to Serve credit for Enterprise activity supporting manufactured homes titled as real property, manufactured homes titled as personal property (also known as chattel), and blanket loans for certain categories of manufactured housing communities. 
     
    • For the affordable housing preservation market, the final rule provides eligibility for Duty to Serve credit for Enterprise activity supporting the preservation of affordable rental housing and affordable homeownership opportunities.  These categories include Enterprise activities under the programs specified in the Safety and Soundness Act, as well as activities supporting small multifamily rental properties, energy efficiency improvements on multifamily rental and single-family first-lien properties, shared equity homeownership programs, purchase or rehabilitation of certain distressed properties, and activities under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and Rental Assistance Demonstration program.
     
    • For the rural housing market, the final rule provides eligibility for Duty to Serve credit for Enterprise activity supporting housing in high-needs rural regions and for high-needs rural populations, financing of housing by small rural financial institutions, and activities related to small multifamily rental properties in rural areas.    
     
    Evaluation Process
     
    As required by the statute, FHFA will evaluate the Enterprises’ compliance with their Underserved Markets Plans by taking into consideration the following factors for each underserved market:  development of loan products, use of more flexible underwriting guidelines and other innovative approaches, the extent of the Enterprises’ outreach to qualified loan sellers and other market participants, the volume of loans purchased by the Enterprise relative to available market opportunities, and the amount of investments in eligible projects.
     
    The final rule establishes a three-part evaluation and rating process:  1) a quantitative assessment; 2) a qualitative assessment; and 3) an assessment of extra-credit eligible activities, including those that promote residential economic diversity. 
     
    “With this final rule, which reflects extensive input from a wide variety of stakeholders, FHFA is fulfilling its statutory requirement to implement the Duty to Serve provisions in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act,” said FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt.  “We look forward to working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help meet the critical housing needs for very low-, low-, and moderate-income American families around the country in the manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing markets.  As we do so, we of course will evaluate each Enterprise proposal to ensure that it will not compromise safety and soundness.” 
     
     
    Further Public Input Requested
     
    FHFA has created a new, dedicated webpage, www.FHFA.gov/DTS, to gather stakeholder feedback on implementation, and to post any updates related to the Duty to Serve Program.  In 2017, FHFA will publish the following documents for public input to support implementation of the final rule:
    • FHFA’s proposed Evaluation Guidance;
    • Request for Input on what each Enterprise should consider or include in a potential manufactured housing chattel pilot program; and
    • Each Enterprise’s proposed Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Plan.
     
    In addition, FHFA and the Enterprises will host public listening sessions to obtain stakeholder input on the Enterprises’ Underserved Markets Plans.  Information on how to register for these sessions will be available at www.FHFA.gov/DTS after December 19.  The sessions will be held:
    • Jan. 25 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago;
    • Feb. 1 at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco;
    • Feb. 8 at FHFA in Washington, D.C.; and 
    • Feb. 9 webinar hosted at FHFA.
     
    The Duty to Serve final rule becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.