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Mack Cos CEO Jim McClelland (left), finance director Mitch Weiner,

We usually cover commercial real estate, but problems in single-family housing have been a big drag on the economy, which has slowed CRE. But MACK Cos CEO Jim McClelland (right, with finance director Mitch Weiner) thinks he has some solutions. He's advising the Obama administration to cut Fannie and Freddie’s huge inventory of underwater houses by stopping the foreclosures then backing mortgages for investors who meet reasonable lending criteria. It’s MACK’s business to know about bank-owned houses: It buys, redevelops, manages, rents, and sells houses it's purchased from local community banks in the south ‘burbs like South Holland, Lansing, and Lynwood. Its current portfolio: 370 houses (16 bought in the past two weeks) and 200 under management for investors.

Mack's Mickie Consola and Kim Kaucky

Mickie Consola and Kim Kaucky are among 105 staffers at MACK, which has seen its acquisition and sales activity double to 250 houses annually since '09. The firm buys the houses at a low basis from from banks, then invests $50k to redevelop each. Even though MACK rents the renovated buildings to residents, it sells mostly to investors and manages their properties—and Jim expects to sell 150 houses in '12, 50% more than a few years ago. The single-family sale market will probably firm up in '12 or '13 as lending criteria loosen, he says. But he cautions lenders that it was lax underwriting that created the housing crash, not government programs that helped working families get a piece of the dream. (Good, because we're not giving back our picket fence.)

Related Topics: South Holland