The 2018 Five Star Government Forum launched at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Tuesday morning with a discussion between United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Benjamin Carson and Five Star President and CEO Ed Delgado. Carson told the assembled guests that he was proud of HUD ’s work to “empower others and move them up the ladder.” Carson also addressed an issue the industry has been watching closely for months: the nomination of Brian Montgomery, currently Vice Chairman of the Collingwood Group, for the role of Assistant Secretary for Housing—Federal Housing Commissioner, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Montgomery originally appeared before the Senate Banking Committee last fall. However, the Senate went into recess before voting on his nomination. As such, the Banking Committee must now revote on the issue before it goes before the full Senate for a vote. While Carson did not reveal any specific timeline on the Montgomery vote, he did tell Delgado that “We are hoping to add Brian Montgomery to the team soon.”
Next up was the second keynote from Peter Wallison, Senior Fellow and Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute . Wallison formerly served as White House Counsel to the President of the United States, Counsel to the Vice President of the United States, and General Counsel for the United States Department of the Treasury, where he played a significant role in the development of proposals for the deregulation of the financial services industry.
Wallison told the crowd, “The thought that only federally backed programs can provide 30-year fixed-rate mortgages is a myth."
During the Policy and Regulation Update panel that followed, Yvette Gilmore, VP, Servicer Relationship and Performance Management at Freddie Mac , addressed the lessons learned from last year’s barrage of natural disasters, including hurricanes that swept over Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as well as the wildfires and mudslides that plagued California. Gilmore told Forum attendees that “Disaster response was about being responsive to our customers.”
Following the Policy and Regulation panel, expert speakers assembled for the “Housing Economy in Focus” panel, which delved into economic trends and the state of the market. Mark Palim, Deputy Chief Economist at Fannie Mae , told the crowd that “new home sales are 25 percent below where they should be."
Inventory shortages have been a critical problem in markets across the country in recent months, but LendingTree  Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze told the crowd, “The supply question for new homes is less dire than it is for existing homes.”
The panel also addressed another hot topic: getting millennials into the mix and buying homes, something that’s been made difficult for many by the combination of limited housing supply and skyrocketing home prices in many markets.
“Younger adults are not forming households at the same rate as they used to,” said Leonard Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac. According to a recent Freddie Mac report , “the rate of heading a household (headship rate) for young adults in 2016 was down 3.6 percentage points as compared to young adults in 2000. If these young adults had formed households at the rate of the young adults in 2000, then the U.S. would have had 1.6 million additional households in 2016.”
“Millennials have the same aspirations toward homeownership,” said Palim. “But they ran into a recession.” (Click here  to read an exclusive DS News interview with Palim.)
After lunch, Hon. Edward DeMarco, President of the Housing Policy Council, Financial Services Roundtable , delivered another keynote speech in which he addressed issues at the Federal Housing Administration .
Topics for the rest of the day include “Regulatory and Enforcement Priorities of the CFPB,” “Expanding Homeownership,” and “HUD and The Future of Housing.”
Stay tuned to MReport for more coverage from the 2018 Five Star Government Forum. You can follow along on Twitter by following the hashtag #FSGF18.