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Luxury Real Estate: Are Taxpayers Funding the Frenzy?


Do you know where your tax dollars are going? (Does anyone?) It turns out that billionaires are tapping into the mortgage guarantors Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to help finance blockbuster apartment complex purchases.

(Freddie Mac provided $34.1B for multifamily acquisitions and refinancings from January to September, more than twice the $14.1B amount for the same period in 2014.)

The cheaper financing by the agencies—sometimes under 3%—makes larger debt loads for bigger projects easier to manage, Bloomberg reports.

In addition, Freddie Mac’s deals are getting bigger as affordable housing definitions expand, enabling more (and bigger) loans while also waiving a $30B cap, which limits how much can be lent to apartment landlords.

Most recently, Starwood Capital and Blackstone Group entered talks with Freddie Mac over financing two transactions totaling over $10B. The government-owned mortgage enterprise has already backed Lone Star Fund's $7.6B purchase of Home Properties Inc and Brookfield's $2.5B takeover of Associated Estates Realty. 

Freddie Mac's David Brickman insists only a "very small percentage" of the properties are luxury, and that the main goal is to push more capital into multifamily while supporting middle-income and workforce housing. The two enterprises were also vital in keeping multifamily going during the 2009 recession. [Bloomberg]