Mortgage Confidential: Fannie and Freddie, What's Up With These Guys?

Mortgage expert David Reed invites WalletPop readers to ask him questions about real estate financing. Leave your questions in the comment section of this post.

Fannie Mae is the nickname given to the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA). First established as a government agency in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt then later re-chartered in 1968 as a publicly traded and government sponsored enterprise. Fannie's job is to provide liquidity in the mortgage market. Freddie Mac, or the Federal Home Loan Corporation (FHMLC) was created in 1970 as a government sponsored private entity just like Fannie Mae with a similar mission, to provide liquidity and add stability in the housing market using private funds.

So how do they do that? How do they provide liquidity and stability in the mortgage market? Let's first look at liquidity and why that's important. When a mortgage company wants to make a home loan it can do so from it's vault of cash or it can be issued from the lender's credit line it has established for the sole purpose of making home loans. Let's say a lender has $100 million in available funds to place mortgages. Now let's say that same lender was successful in its endeavor and lent out everything it had. Zero bank balance. Okay, they've got a lot of real estate in their portfolio but they've run out of cash. Remember, they call lenders "lenders" for a reason, if there's no money to lend, they won't be lenders for very much longer. So what to do?