December 13, 2019

NAFCU to Congress: Protect small lenders, act on housing finance reform

DomeFollowing Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria's recent announcement that the agency plans to issue a re-proposed rule setting capital requirements for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac early next year, NAFCU's Brad Thaler reiterated the association's call for legislative action on housing finance reform in a letter to lawmakers.

As the leading voice for credit unions with housing reform discussions, NAFCU has continuously advocated for the importance of maintaining credit unions' unfettered access to the secondary mortgage market and has engaged with Calabria, other administration officials, and lawmakers on the issue.

"NAFCU has long advocated for housing finance reform because the current conservatorship of the GSEs is unsustainable; however, certain legislative safeguards should first be adopted to preserve a level playing field for financial institutions of all sizes," wrote Thaler, the association's vice president of legislative affairs. 

In the letter, sent to members of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees, Thaler urged Congress to move "swiftly" to protect the ability of small lenders, such as credit unions, to obtain liquidity through mortgage loan sales to the GSEs.

"Absent legislative guarantees, including that credit unions will continue to enjoy equal access to the secondary mortgage market based on the quality and not quantity of their loans, small lenders may be disadvantaged by the urgent efforts to remove the GSEs from conservatorship," warned Thaler.

During NAFCU's Congressional Caucus, Calabria discussed the agency's rule for GSE capital requirements, stating that he views the rulemaking as a prerequisite before ending the GSEs conservatorship. Calabria also discussed his plan to prohibit the GSEs’ use of volume-based pricing discounts.

NAFCU, commenting on the original proposal, offered its general support and recommended the FHFA allow the GSEs to submit capital restoration plans as allowed under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act – a provision that makes clear Congress envisioned a path to remove the GSEs from conservatorship. The association also believes that restoration plans shouldn't be approved until Congress has agreed to codify certain safeguards.

NAFCU will continue to engage with the FHFA, Congress, and other stakeholders to ensure credit unions' concerns are addressed in any final housing finance reform efforts.