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Supporting Women in Homeownership — Before, During and After the Pandemic

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on homeowners nationwide, especially among women homeowners. This group had seen huge gains in recent decades, but now risks seeing that trend stalled — or even reversed — due to our post-pandemic realities. Facing this challenge, Ginnie Mae continues to view its role in the U.S. housing market as managing secondary mortgage market programs that align with our government partners and helping lenders provide affordable mortgage loans to all consumers.

As recently as 2019, the homeownership rate among women grew to about 61.2%, up from about half (50.9%) in 1990, according to the Urban Institute; we believe that growth is partly due to Ginnie Mae’s success in attracting investors to the safety and liquidity of our mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that are backed by government home loans. In fact, in 2021 Ginnie Mae MBS helped 461,000 women-headed household become homeowners, including 106,000 first-time women-headed households.

However, despite those results, the pandemic disrupted the lives of many families, with a disproportionate effect on women homeowners. More women exited the workforce, and it is unclear when many will return to work. Black and Hispanic women, two groups already underrepresented among homeowners, were especially hit hard by these trends.

Recognizing that, Ginnie Mae has worked hand-in-glove with others in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and more broadly across the government, to develop programs that support, foster and sustain homeownership. For example, because the pandemic has forced many homeowners to take lower-paying jobs that pay less than what they were previously earning, maintaining mortgage payments has become more difficult. Ginnie Mae’s extended term mortgage product, designed specifically for homeowners who have been affected by the pandemic, allows homeowners to extend the of a mortgage from the traditional 30-year amortization to as many as 40 years. Longer amortization generally produces lower monthly mortgage payments.

In addition to the extended term product, Ginnie Mae is confident that better appraisal practices will help existing homeowners realize gains in home equity that could be a financial cushion for all homeowners, not just women, in times of economic hardship. We look forward to supporting the work outlined in the recently released interagency task force report ​examining appraisal practices and commit to working with them and out stakeholders to implement policy recommendations where we can.

Sustaining and increasing women-led households, including homeowners, has been good for their families and for the country, both before the pandemic and now especially important as the effects of the pandemic have become more realized. Ginnie Mae will continue to devote efforts to ensuring that the positive trends continue, and the negatives are addressed.