As U.S.'s Lack of Homebuilding Nears Crisis, Fannie Offers Help

Fannie Mae helps borrowers buy homes. Soon it might help build them too.

The mortgage-finance giant is considering a series of pilot programs to address an issue that has plagued the U.S. real-estate market for years: a lack of affordable homes. Fannie’s first initiative, which hasn’t been finalized, would potentially make it cheaper and simpler for prospective homebuyers to get loans to construct new residences.

“Everything is about supply right now,” said Jon Lawless, Fannie’s vice president for product development and affordable housing. “With these activities that we’re undertaking, we hope we can find something that finds a fast path to more supply.”

In many cities including Arlington TX real estate, home values have surpassed their boom-era peaks. With lots of buyers priced out of the market, there should be incentive to build more homes. But policymakers have struggled to make that happen.

Economists and builders blame many factors. Land use restrictions have made it harder to construct homes. And builders say labor, materials and land costs are too high.

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