Freddie Mac, Housing Market Face Period of Transition

Article excerpt

Housing-market watchers should expect the recent choppiness in regional house-price trends to continue, with areas of the country divided into areas of soft and not-so-soft landings while other regions experience continued price appreciation, according to a top official with Freddie Mac.

Both the GSE and the housing sector it serves are in the midst of a transition. But despite recent challenges, both are poised to perform well, noted Timothy Bitsberger, Freddie Mac senior vice president and treasurer, funding and investor relations.

"We think we are very well-positioned to weather local and regional downturns, but as you'd expect, we are watching the situation very carefully," Bitsberger told attendees at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America's Annual Investment Conference in San Francisco in September. "In addition, we will continue to be active across the entire U.S. throughout periods of weakness, and will not pull out of declining areas. This is a fundamental aspect of our mission, and we will continue to perform it."

Rather than approaching it as a "cost of doing business," Bitsberger said that Freddie Mac has consistently emphasized affordable-housing goals as a key component of its overall corporate objectives.

"As you can see, this attention to mission has paid off. We have continued to fulfill our goals in the past two years, despite the increasing difficulty [of doing so]," said Bitsberger. "Fulfilling our increasing HUD affordable-housing goals every year is a real achievement, particularly as afford-ability deteriorates nationally."

The most notable challenge to the housing sector currently is lack of affordability. …

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