Several real estate professionals who worked for government agencies during the Obama era are on the Biden administration's transition teams, but they lack representation from companies currently in the mortgage business.
For example, the team leader for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development review is the Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of the Urban Institute, Erika Poethig. Prior to this, Poethig was Deputy Secretary for Policy, Development and Research at the HUD from 2012 to 2013 under the Obama administration.
At least one team member has experience in the mortgage industry. Helen Kanovsky, General Counsel of the Mortgage Bankers Association from 2016 to 2019, is a member of the Treasury Transition Team. Kanovsky was General Counsel for HUD from 2009 to 2016.
Transition teams include people who previously worked for the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the HUD.
For example, Benson "Buzz" Roberts was Director of Small Business, Community Development and Housing at the Treasury Department from 2011-2015 and will serve on the agency's review team. Roberts most recently served as President and CEO of the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders.
Julia Gordon, who led the FHFA's single-family policy team from 2011 to 2012 and most recently served as president of the National Stabilization Trust, is a member of the HUD review team.
One of them is Eric Stein, the former special advisor to the former FHFA director Mel Watt, who worked from 2014 to 2019. Stein was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consumer Protection at the Treasury Department during the Obama era. He worked on legislation to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011 and most recently served as Chief Operating Officer in the Center for Community Self-Help and Senior Vice President in the Center for Responsible Lending.
“These names are probably more consumer-centric, which I don't think is a bad thing. They know what the government can do, ”said Faith Schwartz, owner of consulting firm Housing Finance System Strategies. "As you know, the mortgage business is very complex and it helps to have government officials who can guide the career staff to help consumers navigate it."
"The only thing I think they need to look out for is that they should have a mix of some people with business backgrounds and consumer representatives," added Schwartz, who had previously played a key role in mitigation policy in 2008 and Crisis worked with some of the people on the transition team. "It helps companies do the best possible job to get good credit."
The roles that members of the transition team play are generally temporary but influential. However, some could have long-term stakes in the administration, said Tim Rood, director of government and industrial relations at SitusAMC.
"They are definitely kingmakers and those who tend to keep going have the fast lane to some of the vacancies," he said.
Biden's administration is likely to bring more mortgage experts and other corporate officials to their knees to negotiate compromises with Republicans, especially if they control the Senate after the two January runoff elections, Rood added.
"While I can see why they would mostly involve people from nonprofits, think tanks and what not, if the Democrats control the House and Senate, it will be turned upside down if the Senate remains under Republican control," said Rood. "Maybe things will change over time."