"We are trying to re-engage in this space in a strong way," Gardner said.
"We are trying to re-engage in this space in a strong way," Gardner said.

Competition in the housing finance agency market is heating up as Freddie Mac re-enters an arena that has been dominated by Fannie Mae and other players.

Freddie recently hired industry veteran Danny Gardner to head up its affordable lending unit that will be working with state and local housing finance agencies.

"We are trying to re-engage in this space in a strong way," Gardner said in an interview last week. "That is a large part of my being hired."

Gardner previously ran the master servicing division at CitiMortgage that has served housing finance agencies for 13 years. Prior to joining Freddie, he was a vice president at Capital One Home Loans.

Freddie has never been a major player in the housing finance market that serves low- and moderate-income homebuyers. But the government-sponsored enterprise allowed its HFA business to dwindle following the housing downturn.

This spring, Freddie introduced a new 3% down payment loan product along with an HFA Advantage program for lenders.

"We have enlisted a number of HFAs who are direct seller/servicers to Freddie or work through U.S. Bank, which is a Freddie seller/servicer," Gardner said.

U.S. Bank is the largest housing finance agency master servicer in the country.

Gardner's goal is to acquire 2,000 HFA loans by the end of the year. Due to the implementation of the new RESPA-TILA integrated disclosures this fall, "the going has been a little slower than we would have liked," he said.

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