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April 2023 » 45 April 2023 T H E P O I N T solutions to those who needed them. Lastly, it all comes down to basic informa- tion sharing. We learned that Fannie Mae could be a trusted resource for people in a time of need. For instance, we could contact a borrower's Servicer on their behalf to start a productive conversation about their options, removing their fear that the Servicer only sought to collect payments. Also, publishing information from Fannie Mae was ex- tremely helpful. At that time, we created our consumer-facing website, KnowYourOptions. com, so we could serve as a trusted source of information for struggling borrowers. We partnered with housing counselors and other types of advisors to provide additional sup- port mechanisms, so borrowers could easily engage and receive the information and help needed. There have been a lot of positive changes within the industry ecosystem, designed to enhance risk management across the entire loan life cycle. It has allowed lenders and investors to better manage through an eco- nomic downturn and also put borrowers in a better position for long-term success in their homeownership. For example, immediately following the crisis, there were updates to underwriting standards to support a mental- ity of long-term sustainability. When you think about granting access to borrowers, you want to do it in a way that sets them up for success in homeownership, and over the long term. Letting people in the door just to let them in the door in the lead up to the 2008 crisis set people back generationally in their homeownership journey and their potential wealth building. We know that had a disproportionate impact on people of color, so it was important to shore up the system. To that end, underwriting standards were also improved to help ensure that the loan we think we're purchasing is the loan that we get. Q: How is Fannie Mae helping homebuyers navigate the current state of the market coming out of the pandemic? The philosophical approach that we take on the front end is focused on responsible and equitable access, as well as supporting sustainable homeownership. Maintaining a commitment to that is important in the cur- rent environment and, again, for setting up folks for long-term success in their home- ownership journey. The industry's commitment to loan qual- ity has been important, and it continues to be in the current environment. To a certain extent, loan defects and manufacturing qual- ity can be a canary in the coal mine for future problems. As we think about Fannie Mae's mission, role, and responsibility in the market, it's not just about responsible access upfront. In times like these, it's about ensuring that we are leaning into supporting folks who may encounter a hardship affecting their ability to make their mortgage payment. This was tested during the COVID pandemic, engag- ing the muscle memory of what we'd learned on the loss mitigation side during the previ- ous crisis. As a result, Fannie Mae was able to support more than 1.4 million borrowers through their financial challenges resulting from the pandemic, primarily through a new solution called payment deferral. I think our current stats are that above 90% of those 1.4 million-plus homeowners who took advantage of forbearance during the pandemic have successfully exited and either paid off their mortgage or gotten back into current status. This is something we're very proud of and the investments we made and lessons learned from the previous crisis proved successful. Q: What advice would you give to first-time buyers in today's marketplace who are interested in jumping into the market? Affordability is very challenging right now–it's the triple-whammy of higher inter- est rates, higher home prices driven by sup- ply constraints, and the impact of inflation on consumers' day-to-day expenses and cash flow. These forces are putting pressure on low- and moderate-income folks who are being squeezed out of the opportunity to access the market. We announced pricing changes over the last year that are intended to better support low-income borrowers. We're also focused on the activities under our Equitable Housing Finance Plan, which, again, are aimed at addressing the long- standing and entrenched problem that has created a disparity between Black and Latino homeownership rates as compared to white homeownership rates. We are always thinking about new ways to solve the problems that are preventing There have been a lot of changes made for the good of the industry infrastructure, designed to enhance risk management across the entire loan life cycle and to put the investors and loans in the primary market in a better situation to manage through an economic downturn."

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