Housing Policy Talks Should Start with FHA: DeMarco

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Adler

WASHINGTON a As policymakers mull the future of U.S. mortgage policy, Federal Housing Finance Agency chief Ed DeMarco sees a potential starting point in an entity he does not regulate: the Federal Housing Administration.

As part of an update on recent FHFA activities, DeMarco, the agency's acting director, told a gathering of policy leaders that figuring out the FHA's role in a future housing finance system could help frame the debate over the extent of the government's long-term involvement in mortgage lending.

"One potential place to start is by clearly defining the role of the traditional government mortgage guarantee programs like the Federal Housing Administration," DeMarco said in a speech to the Exchequer Club. "If policymakers begin with the role FHA should play in the future in terms of what borrowers would have access to this program, and what structural changes might be needed, than it would be easier to consider the government's role in the remainder of the mortgage market."

In his wide-ranging remarks, DeMarco, who has at times butted heads with the White House over mortgage-related policy, said he essentially will stay on the job if the administration will have him. He also sounded an optimistic tone on recent positive signs about the housing recovery, and touted a sharp rise in homeowners helped this year through a government refinancing program compared to 2011. …