Could Fannie Mae Investigation Impact Region 8 Real Estate?

October 6, 2004 – Posted at 7:11 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Last week, government officials announced an investigation into the largest mortgage finance company in the nation. Fannie Mae is charged with inappropriate accounting practices and called into doubt past financial reviews.

Fannie Mae is the number one finance mortgage company in the United States and they've been in business since 1968. They've helped 63 million families own homes with more than 6.3 trillion dollars in mortgage financing. But now that financing may come to an end.

The U.S. government is looking into the accounting practices of the company, and it may become the real estate industry's very own Enron.

Crye-Leike Associate Broker Joe Carr said, "We also have to consider the fact that if there is a problem getting government backed loans, that it could have an effect on some of those who desire to buy homes, and we have to be ready to counter that somehow."

And that could mean borrowers using conventional loans. Something that could be a problem for first time homeowners who can't afford a down payment.

"The goal is that everyone has the right to own a piece of property in America. And there's a lot of programs out there to help folks do that," said Carr.

But Carr says where there's a will, there's a way.

"I just don't see it having that much impact. If you want a home, you'll find a way to buy it, and I'm sure right now, all the loan companies and banks are gearing up for any possibility of a problem with these type of government backed loans," said Carr.

Fannie Mae provides financing to half of all homeowners in the U.S. But if they go belly up, don't count on realtors becoming a dying bread.

"I don't know if it will impact real estate agencies. When the interest rates were 14, 17, 18 percent, people still bought homes. People still have to live somewhere," said Carr, "Right now, we're going to be business as usual."

Fannie Mae stock initially dropped nearly seven percent last week after plans for the investigation were announced.