Walker & Dunlop tackling affordable housing with Freddie SFR pilot

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Walker & Dunlop has been approved as a seller and servicer under Freddie Mac's Affordable Single-Family Rental pilot program, allowing the Bethesda, Md.-based company to focus on middle markets with an average loan size between $10 million and $25 million.

Freddie's SFR program plans to provide additional financing options for both workforce and affordable rental housing in one-to-four unit buildings.

"We are thrilled to partner with Freddie Mac to increase the availability of affordable rental housing for America's working families," Willy Walker, chairman and CEO of Walker & Dunlop, said in a press release.

"Walker & Dunlop has expertise in single-family rental lending, and we look forward to offering our customers best-in-class execution of the program and further enhancing our offering in the SFR space."

The single-family rental market has been the fastest growing sector of housing since the financial crisis. About 35% of the nation's 44 million rental units are single-family rentals, up from 31% in 2006. The majority of renters live in dwellings with less than four units.

As a shortage of home supply continues to plague the real estate market, home prices will continue rising, making low-cost housing especially important. Evolving demographics and household preferences will also drive growth in the single-family rental space as more homebuyers seek affordable ways to live comfortably, according to Walker & Dunlop.

Freddie Mac plans to approach this growing market by offering a competitive alternative to owners and investors of SFRs; the financing option supports more leverage, increased loan consolidation, longer-term loans, fixed rates and nonrecourse loans, according to the government-sponsored enterprise.

Walker & Dunlop is one of nine firms currently approved for the pilot.

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