Despite Scrutiny, Fannie and Freddie’s Senior Housing Focus Sharpens

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are once again at the center of reform talks in the latest chapter of the two government-sponsored entities’ troubled saga, but despite all the scrutiny, lenders say both agencies’ role in the senior housing industry is growing. 

“Both agencies have a very strong appetite for seniors housing assets,” says Allison Holland, a vice president with the healthcare group at KeyBank Real Estate Capital. “Historically, performance has been extremely strong in that asset class. It’s been a very good, stable source for them, and that continues to be the case [with plans] to grow that portion of their portfolio.” 

The wild ride of Fannie and Freddie’s stock prices year-to-date has fanned years-old talks regarding the fate of the two GSEs.


In May, speculative investors and hedge funds bet on the eventual privatization of the two agencies, with shares of Fannie and Freddie skyrocketing 1,300% to a market value of $48 billion before substantially deflating later in the month. By June 10, shares for both agencies were still up more than 600% from the beginning of the year.

Lawmakers have not been as optimistic as investors. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has been drafting legislation regarding GSE reform which includes talk of winding down both agencies and liquidating stock, according to Bloomberg.

Despite years of talks regarding either the privatization of the GSEs or their complete dissolution, neither is likely to happen in the near term, according to Holland. 


“I’ve heard nothing [about changes to either agency], but even if the agencies were privatized, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t continue to keep pursuing the multifamily and seniors housing assets,” she says.

So far, both agencies’ senior housing portfolios are small compared to their overall multifamily commitments, but lenders are seeing swelling interest in senior housing by Fannie and Freddie.

In 2012, 3.55%—or $1.2 billion—of Fannie Mae’s $33.8 billion multifamily portfolio was for senior housing financing, according to the agency’s year-end report.  

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Freddie Mac’s 2012 commitments to the senior housing space were even smaller, at $650 million, comprising about 2.26% of the agency’s $28.8 billion multifamily loan purchases and commitments in 2012, a spokesperson told SHN.

“Both agencies have displayed a steady focus in the senior housing industry,” says Neal Raburn, managing director of senior housing finance at Greystone Servicing Corporation, Inc. “Due to the growing volume [of deals], we have seen them both increase staff over time, and I would say that both agencies have a desire to increase their senior housing business.” 

Most lenders agree that it probably won’t be an option for either Fannie or Freddie to cease existence, considering the billions of dollars of mortgages they have originated.  “I don’t see how [the market] would continue to function without their support, whether it’s for multifamily, commercial, or single-family property types,” says Holland. 

KeyBank sold about $500 million of senior housing loans to Fannie, Freddie, and HUD in 2012, and also originated about $700 million in new commitments to the senior housing industry on its balance sheet. Greystone, which recently received Freddie Mac approval as a designated Senior Housing Seller/Servicer, provided more than $3 billion in agency financing in 2012. 

“Right now, you hear all of the talking heads discussing the reduction of volume by the agencies—but we’re not seeing that on the senior housing side,” Raburn said. “We’re seeing them very aggressively approaching deals.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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