Lending Forecast: GSEs Should Break Volume Records Again in 2016

Article originally posted on on January 22, 2016

After record multifamily mortgage-purchasing volumes by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2015, what can market-rate apartment owners, builders, and buyers—and competing lenders—expect from the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and their originations networks in the coming year? In a word: more.

As is perennially the case, Fannie and Freddie multifamily higher-ups, working with their originations networks around the country, will pursue more strategic tweaks, providing borrowers more options on existing GSE programs as well as more new-product innovations to meet more-diverse financial needs.

But it’s another keyword that should make even more of an ­impact this year, pushing the GSEs’ combined projected multi­family loan-buying growth to double digits and perhaps even to 12-figure dollar-volume territory. That keyword? Caps. As in potentially pivotal ­adjustments to the GSEs’ regulator-imposed annual multifamily ­activity caps that took effect Jan. 1.

It’s not so much the arguably modest boosts to the primary dollar caps, from $30 billion in 2015 to $31 billion this year, that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) imposes on each GSE that are driving the optimistic funding-growth expectations. Rather, it’s three modifications to cap-related calculations that could prove especially conducive to growth in Fannie’s and Freddie’s market-rate and overall multifamily loan purchases in 2016.

Per the FHFA’s 2016 Conservatorship Scorecard, the potentially potent provisions include:

• More frequent (quarterly) adjustments to the GSEs’ activity caps;
• Additional uncapped (“excluded”) apartment-sector segments that will no longer be subject to limitations; and

• The FHFA’s determination to consider excluding certain important nonsubsidized workforce-housing properties from the caps.