As provided by the U.S. Senate:
A. Summary of the “Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008″
This legislation strengthens and modernizes the regulation of the housing government-sponsored enterprises – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs or Banks) – and expands the housing mission of these GSEs. In addition, it creates a new program at FHA that will help at least 400,000 families save their homes from foreclosure by providing for new FHA loans after lenders take deep discounts.
I. Safety and Soundness Regulation of the Housing GSEs
The “Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008″ establishes a new, independent, “world class” regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). The legislation endows this regulator with broad new authority, equivalent to the authority of other federal financial regulators, to ensure the safe and sound operations of the GSEs, including the power to:
- establish capital standards;
- establish prudential management standards, including internal controls, audits, risk management, and management of the portfolio;
- enforce its orders through cease and desist authority, civil money penalties, and the authority to remove officers and directors;restrict asset growth and capital distributions for undercapitalized institutions;
- put a regulated entity into receivership; and
- review and approve (subject to notice and comment) new product offerings.
II. Mission Improvement
The new legislation also significantly enhances the affordable housing component of the GSEs’ mission, and expands the number of families Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises) can serve by raising the loan limits in high cost areas (areas with median house prices that are higher than the regular conforming limit) to 150% of the conforming loan limit. Currently, this would be $625,000.
For the enterprises, the legislation tightens targeting requirements of the affordable housing goals, and rewrites those goals to ensure that the enterprises provide liquidity to both ownership and rental housing markets for low and very-low income families. The legislation requires the enterprises to serve a variety of underserved markets, such as rural areas, manufactured housing, and the preservation market. The legislation improves reporting requirements for affordable housing activities, including the expansion of the public use data base, and strengthens the new regulator’s ability to enforce compliance with the housing goals.
Finally, the legislation creates a new Housing Trust Fund and a Capital Magnet Fund, financed by annual contributions from the enterprises, which will used for the construction of affordable rental housing.
For the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs), the legislation requires new affordable housing goals similar to those that apply to the enterprises for FHLB mortgage purchase programs. The legislation also requires the FHLBs to create a public use data base for such programs. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) would become eligible to join FHLBs. Finally, community financial institution members of the FHLBs may use FHLB advances for community development purposes.