This morning he put out a statement advocating a continuation of the higher loan limits at the GSE's (Fannie and Freddie) and the FHA for one more year. “The temporary loan limits authorized by Congress have benefited consumers and the housing market during what has been a turbulent period for our nation’s economy,” Stevens said in the statement. “That decline is not over yet.”
The statement was a little dry for me, knowing the source, so I called Stevens for a little elaboration. He stated right from the get-go that he is still bullish about the future of the housing market, which is not exactly saying he feels great about it right now.
"It looked very clear at the beginning of the year that we were heading toward a flattening of the market, but we've seen clearly an impact to the housing market which is not solely a result of the U.S. economy. It's brought on by general uncertainties: Oil prices spiked for a while, which hit confidence, there were a lot of impacts both domestically and internationally," he continued. "I think the view right now that I have is that this is a relatively inexpensive initiative that could support the housing market at a time when pulling back makes no sense."
When I suggested that this was in direct opposition to the MBA's stand on GSE reform, which includes reducing loan limits in order to bring private capital back to the market, he said there was always a "caveat in the white paper for market conditions." He also says private capital is still too nervous about the state of housing to come back in force now. As for the FHA, which he has maintained consistently has far too large a market share right now, "If FHA is still too big, it is the sign of an unhealthy system, but it doesn't mean pulling back is the right answer. We must continue providing support."