Magazine article American Banker

Glass Is Half Full, Fannie Mae Tells California Thrift Execs

Magazine article American Banker

Glass Is Half Full, Fannie Mae Tells California Thrift Execs

Article excerpt

Robert J. Levin, a top Fannie Mae executive, began his speech to thrift executives at the Western League's secondary market conference with a look at the past.

Mr. Levin, who as executive vice president of marketing is Fannie Mae's supersalesman, recalled the credit crunch in the mid-1970s, when thrifts still ruled the mortgage business.

He cited a 22-year-old article in the San Francisco Examiner that described the home loan shortage this way: "If you can get your hands on money for a mortgage on a new house, you're lucky."

Today, Fannie Mae and its counterpart, Freddie Mac, rule the mortgage business, and Mr. Levin was quick to note there is no dearth of mortgage money.

But thrift executives, besieged by competitive and regulatory pressures, must have wondered whether the irony was intended when Mr. Levin said, "At Fannie Mae, we are convinced the best is yet to come. The question is, how fast will it get here?"

Here in the heart of thrift country, at an annual conference that is just shy of its 25th birthday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac officers turned in confident performances.

After all, as Mr. Levin said, "Why be shy about it? We're absolutely determined to be the best people to work with so that when you think of top customer service, you think of Fannie Mae."

Both agencies used the forum to announce incremental changes to their underwriting technology. Freddie Mac's president, David W. Glenn, said it had begun a test project to apply its automated underwriting capability to applications for government-insured FHA loans. …

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