Urban Institute Study Suggests Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Should Test Run Manufactured Home Chattel Lending Now!

(The following contains excerpts from a July 07, 2022 narrative by National Mortgage NewsHousing advocates have long pushed for government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to launch a pilot program for backing personal-property loans on ultra-low-cost manufactured housing but now is a particularly good moment to do it, an Urban Institute study suggests.


Affordability Crunch And Secondary Market Options Make Chattel Financing More Pressing And Feasible

The largest affordability crunch in years and increased secondary-market options respectively make it more pressing – and feasible – to test financing for the lowest-cost manufactured homes, said Karan Kaul, principal research associate at the institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center.

“From a financing perspective, chattel is the biggest issue that needs to be fixed in this space,” said Kaul, co-author of the report published by the institute, a non-profit think tank that has produced Washington officials like Alanna McCargo, president of government bond issuer Ginnie Mae.

Many of the hurdles that have stood between GSEs and chattel lending – such as the fact that the loans lack the security of real estate as collateral – remain, he acknowledged. But the study suggests some workarounds that have become more feasible recently.

“The GSEs could work with existing lenders to develop a standardized product for manufactured housing chattel loans,” said David Brinkman, former CEO of the Institute. He added that “the GSEs could leverage this standardization by developing any of several types of CRT structures.”


Securitization Of Chattel Loans Has proved Viable in Recent Years

Private market securitization of chattel loans has proved viable in recent years, which suggests the potential for further secondary market development too, according to the more recent report Kaul co-authored with Daniel Pang, a research assistant at the institute. Recent private securitization, however, has been limited, Kaul noted in an interview.

Affordable housing advocates have been frustrated by the GSEs’ lack of involvement in chattel lending because while the homes can be accessed by people with lower incomes than those necessary to qualify for real-estate secured loans, the financing rates are far higher.

The median income for a chattel manufactured-housing loan, for example, is $55,000 as compared to $58,000 for real estate secured financing, the Urban Institute found in an analysis of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act from 2021. But borrowers who took out chattel loans last year paid a median rate of 7.8% percent over 20 years, as compared to 3.5% over 30 years for real-estate securred loans.

While GSE involvement might not completely erase that rate differential given that charrel loans have less secure collateral, it could reduce it, the researchers said in the report.

“You’re not going to be able to finance chattel at the rate as a mortgage, but you may be able to do it at a rate much lower than 8%, and you would be able to offer a 30-year product,” Kaul said. 

Recent Posts