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Cultivating the Future of Housing

This feature originally appeared in the May issue of MReport.

A Perspectives Blog published in June 2019 by Fannie Mae found that a majority of appraisers are nearing retirement—49% are between the ages of 51 and 65 and an additional 13% are 66 or older. 

In that 2019 Perspectives Blog, Jacob Williamson, VP, SingleFamily Credit, Risk Collateral Management at Fannie Mae pointed out that “we need a new generation to step in.” According to Williamson, just 7% of appraisers have been working in the industry for less than two years and 52% had been in the industry for 20 years or more. The current field of appraisers lacks diversity—75% of appraisers are men and 87% are white. 

Twenty-seven percent of the housing industry’s workforce identifies as a racial or ethnic minority. Fannie Mae and the Mortgage Bankers Association are looking to change that. In 2019, the MBA and Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders program announced a partnership to promote diversity and inclusion in the housing finance industry. The partnership will connect 

Future Housing Leaders program participants with MBA member firms hiring interns and hiring for entry-level positions. 

“As we all know, diverse businesses do better financially,” said Nancy Jardini, Fannie Mae SVP, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. “They are better places to work in and they benefit from a diverse set of viewpoints. We want to ensure for the future of the housing industry that we have a diverse population of students who are exposed to opportunities within our industry and understand the possible pathways for them within the housing and mortgage industry.” 

Jardini said she doesn’t believe it is a lack of interest in the industry, but rather a lack of awareness. She added that the industry is trying to attract students—who may have never bought a home or rented their own apartment—and expose them to opportunities in the housing industry. 

“This program is designed to expose students to the various opportunities that exist in our industry and give them some experience that may spark their interest and provide them with a possible career track for them to follow,” Jardini said. 

Lisa Haynes, SVP, CFO, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, for the MBA, said one of the goals of the partnership is to come up with ways they can teach students about the housing and mortgage industry. 

“Thinking back to most of us who graduated from college, this wasn’t one of the industries in the career centers or that they talked about in finance class. You learned about investment banking. You learned about banking, period,” Haynes said. “You learned about other industries. You don’t learn much about the mortgage industry, and the careers available in the mortgage industry. And, so I think among the younger generations, it’s really just exposing them to this industry, and what the opportunities are in the industry.” 

Haynes said it is vital that the industry recognizes the changing demographics and that the buyer pool is different. 

“Their buying patterns are different. The way that they save money is different. There’s different cultural experiences that I think it’s really important for the mortgage industry to be aware of, to recognize that the person they’re selling a home to today is not the person they were selling a home to 20, 30 years ago,” Haynes said. 

She added that it is important that its members stay competitive, and they’ll do that by “making sure that they’re making the best decisions.” 

“They understand the needs of the changing demographics that are out there. So, I think all of that is important to making sure that the industry stays current and just ... If you don’t jump on what that new wave is, if you don’t see where that future’s going, you’ll be left behind,” Haynes said. 

Jardini, meanwhile, pointed out that Fannie Mae’s commitment goes beyond its own workforce. 

“We’re committed to doing business with diverse partners in the supplier and vendor space, in capital markets transactions, and the contracting space,” Jardini said. “Everywhere where we do business, we appreciate and promote the values of diversity and inclusion, and the Future Housing Leaders program gets to the heart of our commitment.” Jardini said the response to the program since it debuted in July 2018 has been “overwhelmingly positive,” from lender and employee-partners and internally at Fannie Mae. 

“There’s a great thirst for this program in the industry. The students that we have worked with across a variety of outreach opportunities—visits to campuses and job fairs—have been uniformly excited about the opportunity,” Jardini said. “We have more than doubled the number of internships just in the first year of the program.” 

Fannie Mae has 31 employer partners in the program and has offered nearly 100 internships in 2019. Jardini added that the program has expanded to reach a broader population, including partnerships with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Management Leadership for Tomorrow. 

“We’re continuing to expand, engaging with more employer partners and a diverse set of on-campus recruiters and organizations to reach more students,” she said. Haynes said creating this pipeline, while vital for the industry, will be a long process. 

“We’re talking about 5, 10 years before we create a real solid pipeline, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and I think the start of it is Future Housing Leaders,” Haynes said. 

The MBA has a Mortgage Banking Bound program that is offered free to students, giving them the opportunity to come out with a certificate from the MBA. 

“And because it’s free to students, it’s just a matter of them getting it done. And, so continuing to do things like that will allow us to expand the industry and expand the knowledge of the industry, that’s where we really see it going,” Haynes said. 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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