Housing finance reform not happening soon: Trump official

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WASHINGTON — Dealing with the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be a 2018 or even 2019 issue, a top Trump administration official said Wednesday.

Mark Calabria, the chief economic adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and a former GOP Senate Banking Committee staffer, said the administration is currently focused on more pressing housing issues, including addressing damage caused by recent hurricanes.

"A large amount of housing in Puerto Rico is uninhabitable," he said at a joint Urban Institute/CoreLogic housing conference. "Our recovery effort is not just getting people back into housing" but to help restore Puerto Rico's economy, he said.

The Trump administration also wants to pass tax reform, which will help the housing market.

"It is the single best thing we can do for the housing market," Calabria said, because tax reform will increase productivity, wage growth and personal income.

As for the government-sponsored enterprises, he said, "we have only begun the process of figuring out the exit path" for Fannie and Freddie conservatorships.

"If it was easy, it would have been done already,” Calabria said.

He noted the administration plans to hold listening sessions in the future to get input from stakeholders on various plans for getting Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship.

Calabria also noted that the administration is re-evaluating the False Claims Act litigation that has driven so many lenders out of the Federal Housing Administration’s single-family guarantee program.

Additionally, he said the administration is re-examining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “qualified mortgage” rule.

"We want a world were lenders are willing to take credit risk and we not in that world today,” he said. "It is not a healthy situation for the taxpayer or the real estate industry.”

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Housing finance reform GSE reform GSEs Fannie Mae Freddie Mac FHA