Knowledge@Wharton

Debate has resumed over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after recent comments by U.S. Treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin that they should be privatized. 

...Wharton real estate professor Susan Wachter says the foreclosure freeze might temporarily buoy prices by keeping foreclosed properties off the market and could give some families another chance to come up with enough money to save their home. However, she expects that most of the now-stalled foreclosures will eventually move forward. "This will only delay the market clearing process."...
..."The only way to clear prices is by getting rid of the foreclosure backlog, but that will take a long time to work out. It's still a multi-year process," says Wharton real estate professor Joseph Gyourko, adding that 20% to 25% of all U.S. homes are worth less than what their owners owe lenders. "Every one of them is a candidate for default and foreclosure. It will just take a while to work through."
While housing is always highly cyclical, Gyourko says the current prospects for recovery are hampered by extremely low levels of activity throughout the market, including new housing starts and sales volume. And the current slump is different from others because it is driven not only by imbalances in the sector, but also by larger economic problems. "This recovery is different. It's slower than normal.... You won't get much pickup in housing market activity -- buying and selling -- until you get job growth." Wachter agrees: "The key driver in housing is still jobs."...