304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Fannie Mae, formally known as the Federal National Mortgage Association, is a crucial player in the United States housing finance system. As a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), Fannie Mae operates in the country’s massive secondary mortgage market to provide liquidity, affordability, and stability to the mortgage market.
Does Fannie Mae sell mortgages?
Fannie Mae does not sell mortgages. As a government-sponsored enterprise operating in the secondary mortgage market, Fannie Mae purchases loans from primary lenders, then either holds them as investments or bundles them into mortgage-backed securities for sale to investors. Its role is to provide liquidity and stability to the mortgage market, not to compete with lenders.
Fannie Mae was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as a New Dealeffort to revive the devastated housing market by making homeownershipmore accessible. It started out as an agency within the federal government before being privatized as a publicly-traded company in 1968. However, after being bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis, Fannie Mae was placed under conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Today, while still a shareholder-owned company, it continues to operate under close government supervision for the public benefit.
As a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), Fannie Mae plays a crucial role in the United States housing finance system. It works to ensure liquidity and stability in the massive secondary mortgage market where existing mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are bought and sold. As one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, Fannie Mae provides the necessary capital to keep mortgage credit flowing to homeowners and homebuyers nationwide.
The key way Fannie Mae promotes liquidity in the mortgage market is by purchasing conventional loans from primary lenders like commercial banks, mortgage companies, and other loan originators. This gives lenders the ability to issue new mortgage loans while getting old ones off their books.
Fannie Mae generates profits by packaging purchased loans into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and selling them to various capital market investors like pension funds, hedge funds, and insurance companies. The securitization process replenishes Fannie Mae’s capital reserves so it can further invest in the mortgage market.
To manage risk, Fannie Mae has strict standards for the loans it will purchase. These loans are known as conforming loans because they must conform to underwriting guidelines on borrower creditworthiness, loan amounts, down payments, mortgage terms, property appraisals, and other factors. Loans that do not meet the conforming criteria are called non-conforming loans.
An important thing to understand is that Fannie Mae is not a direct lender – it does not originate or service mortgage loans. Rather, it is a secondary market investor that buys mortgages from primary mortgage lenders. In other words, Fannie Mae does not sell mortgages to the public or compete with lenders. Its role is to inject liquidity into the mortgage system by purchasing loans for its retained investment portfolio and MBS issuances. This in turn allows lenders to originate more loans.
Fannie Mae does not sell mortgages to consumers for several key reasons:
So in summary, Fannie Mae does not sell mortgages because its role in the secondary mortgage market is to buy loans for investment purposes, not compete with primary lenders. Providing liquidity through securitization is how it fulfills its mission.
When Fannie Mae purchases conventional loans from mortgage lenders, it typically places them into one of two categories:
No matter whether the mortgage is held as a portfolio investment or converted into an MBS, the key point is that Fannie Mae purchases and holds the loan rather than selling it directly to other consumers. This supports liquidity for lenders while also generating profits for Fannie Mae shareholders.
By providing a stable secondary market for loan originators to sell mortgages into, Fannie Mae delivers major benefits to both lenders and borrowers:
For lenders, Fannie Mae:
For borrowers, Fannie Mae:
So in essence, Fannie Mae is an intermediary between Wall Street and Main Street. Its activities provide an essential link between the capital markets that supply lending capital and the consumers who demand mortgages. This is why it is considered integral to the smooth functioning of the enormous US housing finance system.
As a government-sponsored enterprise, Fannie Mae’s core purpose is to strengthen the secondary mortgage market in order to facilitate homeownership. While it has shareholders, it also has mandates to operate in the public benefit. Two major beneficiaries are lenders and borrowers:
For lenders, Fannie Mae provides:
For borrowers, Fannie Mae enables:
So in summary, Fannie Mae’s core purpose is to add liquidity, stability, and affordability to the enormous US mortgage lending system, which benefits both lenders and everyday borrowers.
No, Fannie Mae does not directly sell or finance properties to consumers. However, you may be able to buy a Fannie Mae-owned property through their REO (real estate owned) auction site HomePath.com. Fannie Mae foreclosed properties are listed there for purchase.
If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae, you would receive a formal notification letter from your mortgage servicer. You can also call your servicer directly to ask if your loan was sold to Fannie Mae. Knowing the owner of your mortgage does not change its terms.
Typically nothing changes – Fannie Mae does not service the loans it purchases. You will still make payments to your existing servicer. The terms, interest rate, and loan balance do not change. The only difference is who ultimately owns the mortgage.
Fannie Mae purchases conventional, conforming loans – meaning loans that adhere to its underwriting standards for loan amount, down payment, borrower credit profile, and other requirements. Loans above the conforming limit and government loans (FHA, VA) are not purchased.
By providing lenders access to capital markets, Fannie Mae increases market liquidity which exerts downward pressure on interest rates. Conforming mortgages sold to Fannie Mae typically have lower rates versus non-conforming jumbo loans that stay on lender balance sheets.
In summary, Fannie Mae plays a vital role in supporting the United States housing finance system as one of the nation’s largest secondary mortgage market institutions. It provides key benefits to lenders and consumers by injecting liquidity into the mortgage ecosystem through its large-scale purchases of home loans for securitization and portfolio investment. This gives primary lenders access to capital markets and allows them to meet America’s demand for affordable mortgage financing. While not perfect, Fannie Mae remains an important mechanism for facilitating homeownership.