Fannie Mae plays a huge role in the mortgage process. From shaping borrower qualification guidelines, to developing new mortgage programs, influencing mortgage rates and providing liquidity to lenders, Fannie Mae is arguably the most important organization in the mortgage industry. Despite its importance, most borrowers never interact directly with Fannie Mae when they get a mortgage. From the borrower’s standpoint, Fannie Mae works behind the scenes to help the mortgage market function properly.
Because most mortgage borrowers never actually work or speak with Fannie Mae, we wondered how much they know about the government-sponsored entity that helps determine if they can qualify for a mortgage — certainly a crucial part of the mortgage process! Given its role in the mortgage industry, we hoped that borrowers could identify the organization and at least know that Fannie Mae is not an actual person.
As part of the FREEandCLEAR Mortgage Survey we asked mortgage borrowers to select Fannie Mae from a list of options including None of the Above (correct response), First Female Senator, First Female Soldier, Alexander Hamilton’s Wife and George Washington’s Wife. In addition to providing some comic relief, the results of this survey question are both informative and entertaining.
11% of survey respondents answered the question incorrectly with 6% of borrowers identifying Fannie Mae as the first female US senator (the first female senator was Rebecca Latimer Felton who served in office for all of one day in 1922). A combined 4% of borrowers said Fannie Mae was either the first first female US soldier (Deborah Sampson holds that honor) or Alexander Hamilton’s wife (perhaps the musical was on respondents’ minds). 1% of borrowers selected George Washington’s wife as their answer (how dare they forget about Martha). So basically, one in ten borrowers identified Fannie Mae as a historical figure instead of the entity that helps shape the mortgage industry.
The positive news from our survey is that 89% of mortgage borrowers answered the question correctly by selecting None of the Above. So it seems that a clear majority of mortgage borrowers know enough about Fannie Mae to understand that it is not a person.
We admit that we included this question to provide some comic relief at the end of our mortgage survey but the findings are still meaningful. All mortgage borrowers would benefit from knowing “who” Fannie Mae is and learning more about how Fannie Mae impacts the mortgage process.