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Building a better future for housing

In 2021, our nation began to recover from the immense effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Although life is not the same as pre-pandemic days, the country adjusted, as it has always done in the face of adversity. It was time to focus on the future and create an opportunity to set the nation on a positive path.

2021 was a year of action and innovation to help create an even better, even stronger housing finance industry.

Fannie Mae has served a public mission since it was founded in 1938. In early 2021, adapting this mission to the housing needs of a country recovering from pandemic and wrestling with its persistent disparities in homeownership, wealth, and opportunity became the central focus of our 7,400 employees. That mission, “to facilitate equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and quality affordable rental housing across America,” is brought to life in the accomplishments outlined in this report.

Those accomplishments fall into three broad areas that we believe lay the groundwork for a better future for U.S. housing and Fannie Mae’s vital role in supporting it:

  1. Building a fundamentally fairer housing system.
  2. Supporting housing stability for homeowners and renters.
  3. Expanding affordable homebuying and rental opportunities across the United States.

A fairer housing system

Fannie Mae is working to knock down barriers that exclude people from accessing affordable, stable homeownership and rental opportunities. This includes addressing the barriers that disproportionately impact people of color.

Fannie Mae was the first in the industry to incorporate and review positive rent payment data history in underwriting.

  • We began to accept average credit score for loans with multiple applicants. We believe this, along with positive rent payment history, will allow more first-time homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage, including those with thin or unconventional credit histories.
  • To help low-income homeowners with a mortgage take advantage of the low interest rate environment in 2021 and, therefore, reduce their mortgage costs, Fannie Mae launched RefiNow™. By reducing potential financial and administrative barriers associated with refinancing, this product aims to encourage those who tend to refinance less often, including borrowers of color, to save on housing costs.
  • We worked to find new ways to broaden and deepen inclusion policies and initiatives for consumers. One important step toward creating a fairer housing system is for the industry to better reflect the consumers that it serves. 2021 was a banner year for our Future Housing Leaders® program and Appraiser Diversity Initiative, both of which aim to provide career opportunities for historically underrepresented groups and create a pipeline of diverse talent for the housing industry.
  • Fannie Mae focused on identifying challenges Black borrowers face and shared our findings with the industry and public — including in our research publications, Barriers to Entry: Closing Costs for First-Time and Low-Income Homebuyers and Appraising the Appraisal.

Housing stability

As part of our mission to create more sustainable housing for more families, we helped keep borrowers and renters in their homes by providing homeownership and rental education, maintaining sustainable and inclusive credit standards, and highlighting foreclosure prevention options.

Our homebuyer education programs were used by over 28 million Fannie Mae borrowers in 2021.

  • To help consumers prepare for homeownership, we launched the Your Own Story campaign with a dedicated website to provide homebuyers with accessible, interactive information on how to achieve sustainable homeownership.
  • Our Know Your Options™ website featured the latest information and resources on buying, renting, and disaster relief, and our Disaster Response Network™ gave eligible homeowners and renters access to personalized support during natural disasters and the pandemic.
  • After the success of 2020’s Here to Help campaign, which provided lenders, servicers, borrowers, renters, and property managers with the latest information on COVID-19-related policy updates and relief options, we continued to highlight these resources. A key success metric for this effort: Of the 1.4 million Fannie Mae loans that received forbearance, over 87% have been paid off, been reinstated, or entered a payment deferral or modification.
  • By partnering with organizations in sectors adjacent to housing, such as employment, education, and health, Fannie Mae’s Sustainable Communities Initiative continued to explore innovative ways to support holistic housing — housing that is more stable and affordable.

Expanding affordable homebuying and rental opportunities

Stable and affordable housing is foundational and transformative for individuals, families, and communities. Fannie Mae remained committed to promoting a stronger, safer, and more efficient housing finance system that serves the needs of individuals and families first.

We supported 712,699 mortgages for first-time homebuyers, more than half of all our home purchase mortgage business in 2021.

  • We provided a stable source of liquidity for mortgage lending to help increase access to affordable home and rental housing finance in all markets, providing $1.4 trillion in liquidity to the Single-Family and Multifamily mortgage markets that supported more than 1.5 million home purchases and 3.3 million home refinancings. We also supported 694,000 units of rental housing, nearly 95% of which were affordable to families earning at or below 120% of Area Median Income.
  • To support our country’s most underserved markets, we maintained incentives for affordable housing options like manufactured housing and helped lenders serve more creditworthy low-income first-time homebuyers with mortgage products like HomeReady®.
  • Proprietary tools like Community First™ allowed nonprofits and public entities to purchase Fannie Mae real estate owned properties (REO) before they are made available to the public. These community-minded organizations offer programs like down payment assistance, ground leases, and deed restrictions that make these homes affordable to lower-income buyers and preserve affordability over time.
  • Our Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investments continued to grow in 2021, providing a reliable source of capital for the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing for renters that need it most.

2021 marked our country’s transition from pause to progress. This momentum inspires our drive to build a stronger, safer, fairer, and more accessible housing system. And though we accomplished much in 2021, we recognize that more work lies ahead. The people of Fannie Mae, along with our many partners, are ready and eager to see that work realized on behalf of the homeowners and renters we serve.