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Watt Sworn in as FHFA Director

2nd FHFA director to be sworn in

Jan. 6, 2014

By Mortgage Daily staff

After five years in office, President Barack Obama finally has his own man overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the more than $5 trillion they manage.

Obama originally nominated former North Carolina commissioner of banks Joseph A. Smith Jr. in November 2010 to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

But Smith withdrew his name from consideration in January 2011 after Senate Republicans objected to his confirmation as FHFA director.

It wasn't until May 2013 that Obama named another nominee to head FHFA: North Carolina Rep. Melvin L. Watt.

But even Watt's nomination was held up as Republican's threatened a filibuster.

However, a procedural change made in the Senate cleared the way for Watt's confirmation, which took place on Dec. 10.

On Monday, Watt became the second person sworn in as FHFA director, an FHFA announcement indicated.

Watt replaces Acting FHFA Director Edward J. DeMarco, who took over in 2009 when the first FHFA director, James B. Lockhart III, left to join the then-owner of American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., WL Ross & Co. LLC.

FHFA was created through The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and replaced the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight following the financial crisis.

Watt, who expressed gratitude in today's announcement for being given the opportunity to run FHFA, was a member of the House since 1992. Prior to that, he practiced law for 22 years -- specializing in minority business and economic development law in a general practice law firm.

Watt was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to FHFA. He received a law degree from Yale University Law School.

Fannie reported a book of business of $3.2 trillion as of Nov. 30, while Freddie said its total mortgage portfolio finished November at $1.9 trillion.

Watt Confirmed as FHFA Director (Dec. 10, 2013)
President Barack Obama's nominee for director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Principal Reduction Ahead for Agencies? (May 1, 2013)
A member of the House of Representatives has been nominated to take over the regulator that oversees the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. If the nominee makes it through the confirmation process, negative-equity borrowers on agency home loans could see principal reduction.

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