Changes to the Residential Mortgage Market: Legislation, Demographics, and Other Drivers

Publication Date: April 2013

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Author(s): N. Eric Weiss

Research Area: Economics; Social conditions

Keywords: Housing; Mortgage; Legislation

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This report provides an overview of the changing residential mortgage market, focusing on trends in housing prices, homeownership, mortgage characteristics, and financing. It also examines legislation and regulations designed to promote the efficient functioning of the mortgage market. Congressional Concern About Mortgages Congressional interest in residential mortgage markets has increased following the collapse of the housing bubble, government financial support to the mortgage market, and housing's perceived importance to the broader economic recovery. Since 2008, the residential mortgage market has experienced some of the highest default and foreclosure rates since the Great Depression. The future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two congressionally chartered government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that have long been central pillars of the mortgage market, is also the subject of congressional debate. Both GSEs are currently in conservatorship and have received financial support from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There is also concern over the financial conditions of the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA's) mortgage guarantee program. How Mortgages Are Funded Today and in the foreseeable future, home mortgages are indirectly financed by financial institutions, such as pension funds, college endowments, central banks, and sovereign wealth funds. A household seeking a mortgage typically applies directly to an organization ...