WASHINGTON — Fannie Mae's net income fell 23% to $11 billion in 2015 from a year earlier despite benefiting from higher purchases of single-family and multifamily loans, the government-sponsored enterprise said Friday.
That's because Fannie's 2014 earnings were boosted by settlements with firms that sold private-label securities to the enterprise. The firm also faced lower interest rates and higher foreclosure costs in 2015.
Fannie purchased $471.4 billion in single-family loans in 2015, compared with $369.8 billion a year earlier. It also bought $42.1 billion in multifamily loans last year, compared with $32.3 billion in 2014.
"Our strong 2015 results demonstrate our commitment to improving both our company and the broader housing finance system," said Timothy Mayopoulos, Fannie Mae's president and chief executive. "We are listening closely to our customers so we deliver industry-leading solutions that make doing business with us easier, more efficient, and more certain. We are evolving our business model so we better serve the industry and taxpayers, and fulfill our essential role in making affordable mortgage and rental options available for millions of people across the country."
Fannie's quarterly earnings picture was even brighter. Fourth-quarter earnings rose 25% to $2.5 billion from a quarter earlier.
During a conference call, Mayopoulos commented on the continuing reduction in Fannie's capital cushion as a result of annual payments to the U.S. Treasury. Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt raised the issue during a Bipartisan Policy Conference a day earlier, warning that the GSEs may soon need another government bailout.
Mayopoulos noted that Fannie currently has a $1.2 billion capital cushion and that will be drawn down to zero in 2018. But Fannie also has $117 billion in available credit under its preferred stock purchase agreement with Treasury.
"That is a significant amount of money," Mayopoulos said in response to a reporter's question.
He noted that Watt "quite appropriately raised the issue."
The Fannie Mae CEO said it is an issue that needs to be addressed eventually. "But it is not an imminent issue that should cause any disturbance in the market," Mayopoulos said. "For the foreseeable future, the marketplace will manage this just fine."
Fannie will pay $2.9 billion in dividends to Treasury in March. Since the financial crisis that landed it in conservatorship, the GSE has paid $116.1 billion in dividends to Treasury.