College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources


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Distinguished alumnus peers into the housing market crystal ball

NDSU alumnus Douglas Duncan’s job is to predict the future and make forecasts that have a major impact on housing across the country. 

Duncan, BS ’80, MS ’83, agricultural economics, is the senior vice president and chief economist for the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae. 

The government-sponsored company is a major source of financing for mortgage lenders. It works to make homeownership and rental housing a reality for millions of Americans.Duncan’s predictions about the economy and the housing market business are vital to many Fannie Mae’s business decisions. 

Duncan returned to campus Nov. 1-2 as the distinguished alumnus for the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources and to serve as Executive-in-Residence for the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.

“It’s humbling to be recognized because I know the college has produced some really impressive graduates who have distinguished careers in many areas. I’m just pleased I didn’t embarrass the faculty along the way,” said Duncan, who has been named by Bloomberg/BusinessWeek as one of the “50 Most Powerful People in Real Estate.” “

“I have a fairly broad role with Fannie Mae – there is an endless number of things to explore,” explained Duncan, who was raised on a farm near Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

The factors facing his childhood family farm – production costs, time and resource requirements, varying crop prices – are similar in many ways to the inputs he uses in his work with Fannie Mae.

“It all boils down to some basic things that I learned growing up on the farm, which was formalized during my education at NDSU. My classes put everything into an analytic form, a framework for thinking that allowed me to forecast what actions impact the bottom line,” he said. “I think about how things fit together, and use that data to look forward in time.

During his visit to NDSU, Duncan met with students to share his experiences and insights. He enjoys those connections because he regularly hires young, enthusiastic economists to work on his Fannie Mae team of economists.

“I like the energy of working with young people,” he said. “In my own organization, I try to maintain a staff that contains all levels of experience. I recruit people with energy and throw them in the deep end of the pool to see what they are made of. I love watching young people move up in the organization.”

Duncan said changing market conditions keep his job both demanding and interesting. “Working hard was instilled in me at an early age,” he said. “I enjoy the work and as long as they keep giving me challenges, I’m here to stay.”

Prior to joining Fannie Mae in 2008, Duncan was senior vice president and chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. He earned his doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University.

Duncan and his wife, Brandie, live in Cape Coral, Florida. He has two sons – Jeremy and Alexander – and three step-daughters – C.J., Ashleigh and Mackenzie.

Source: NDSU News

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