Friday, February 09, 2018

Federally sponsored lenders will increase rural home loans; county-level map shows under-served areas

Though the Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac") have had limited reach into rural America, the government-sponsored mortgage giants have new plans to make it easier for rural homebuyers to get a loan. The two companies own almost half of all U.S. mortgages, but only 12 percent of the rural home loans that were initiated between 2012 and 2015.

Because of this discrepancy, Congress is requiring Fannie and Freddie to increase their business in high-needs rural areas and populations, finance more housing through small banks, and help preserve rental housing. The new requirements will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. "In many respects, Fannie and Freddie’s current products are not particularly well-suited for many rural markets, as evidenced by their low activity and the congressional mandate itself. New and creative approaches are needed to fully achieve their goals in rural areas," Lance George writes for The Daily Yonder. George is the director of research and information at the Housing Assistance Council, which helps local organizations build homes in rural America and did this map:
"The most effective approach would be for Fannie and Freddie to partner with existing housing providers, nonprofits, and tribes, who already work in these communities," George writes. "These entities have the experience, local trust, and insights to help Fannie and Freddie in these often hard to reach areas. Ultimately, rural America is a big place, with many different housing markets. To make this plan a success, Fannie and Freddie will need to better understand these often-forgotten markets, and commit meaningful efforts and investment."

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