The country’s biggest tax credit investors may now be the nation’s biggest sellers.
The prospect of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac selling their low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) portfolios has sent chills through a tax credit industry already struggling to attract investors. But now, it looks like the companies may be ready to cash out.
Freddie Mac, which has been tight-lipped about a possible sale, is currently marketing a tax credit portfolio, according to industry sources. Some in the industry characterize Freddie Mac’s actions as “testing the market,” saying that no formal package has been marketed. But others say that discussions are advancing and that a sale could be consummated by as early as October.
Since the government-sponsored enterprises are, technically, publicly traded companies, they have a fiduciary obligation to maximize shareholder value. Monetizing the billions in tax credits currently held on their balance sheets is not a luxury, then, but the letter of the law.
Still, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) would likely need to approve any such sale, and would have to weigh the effect such a sale would have on the already depressed tax credit equity market. When asked about a possible sale by Freddie Mac, an FHFA representative on Aug. 7 said no transaction has been approved.
Industry groups such as the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition have lobbied for restrictions to be put in place on such a sale. The most notable is that a sale not be made to current investors or firms that have bought credits in the past 10 years. And according to one industry source, Freddie has taken that suggestion to heart, targeting firms that are not currently active LIHTC investors.