Nicolas P. Retsinas

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Nicolas P. Retsinas is a Senior Lecturer in Real Estate at the Harvard Business School where he teaches courses in housing finance and real estate in frontier markets. Mr. Retsinas is also Director Emeritus of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, a collaborative venture of the Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Lecturer in Housing Studies at the Graduate School of Design.

Prior to his Harvard appointment, Retsinas served as Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and as Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision. Mr. Retsinas also served on the Board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Board and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. He received a Meritorious Service Award from the US Treasury Department in 1997. He also received the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Rental Housing Association in 1998 and the Housing Leadership Award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition in 2001.  He is in the National Housing Hall of Fame and was named one of the most influential people in real estate by the National Association of Realtors, in home building by BUILDER magazine, and in multifamily housing by Multi-Housing News. In 2008, he was inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame and in 2009 was named by BUILDER magazine as one of the top 30 innovators in the home building industry in the past 30 years. In 2010, Bloomberg Business Week named him one of the 50 most powerful people in real estate.  In 2011, Inman News named him as one of the 100 most influential real estate leaders and the National Housing Conference named him Person of the Year.

Mr. Retsinas also served the State of Rhode Island as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation from 1987 to 1993. He received his master's degree in city planning from Harvard University and his AB in economics from New York University.  In 2008, he received an honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Rhode Island College.

Mr. Retsinas serves on the Board of Directors of Community Development Trust, Inc., Freddie Mac, and the Center for Responsible Lending.  He chairs the Providence Housing Authority and is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity International.  In 2012, Retsinas was named to the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission where he co-chairs the Mortgage Finance Reform Working Group.    

Mr. Retsinas has lectured and written extensively on housing, real estate and banking issues.  He has co-edited Low-Income Homeownership: Examining the Unexamined Goal (2002), Building Assets, Building Credit: Creating Wealth in Low-Income Communities (2005), Revisiting Rental Housing: Policies, Programs, and Priorities (2008), Borrowing to Live: Consumer and Mortgage Credit Revisited (2008) and Moving Forward: The Future of Consumer Credit and Mortgage Finance (2011).   He has also co-authored Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy (2004) and Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America's Cities and States (2007). He is a Fellow at the National Academy for Public Administration.


January 2014

  1. Moving Forward: The Future of Consumer Credit and Mortgage Finance

    The recent collapse of the mortgage market revealed fractures in the credit market that have deep roots in the system's structure, conduct, and regulation. The time has come for a clear-eyed assessment of what happened and how the system should be strengthened and restructured. Such reform will have a profound and lasting impact on the capacity of Americans to use credit to build assets and finance consumption.

    Moving Forward explores what caused the crisis and, more important, focuses on the path ahead. The challenge remains the same as ever: protect consumers, ensure fairness, and guarantee soundness of the financial system without stifling innovation and overly restricting access to credit and consumer choice. Nicolas Retsinas, Eric Belsky, and their colleagues aim to stimulate debate based on analysis of the opportunities and challenges presented by the various components of global capital markets: financial engineering, risk assessment and management, specialization of financial intermediation, and marketing methods. The contributors—leaders in business, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector—discuss new research and ideas about the future of credit markets, including how improvements might be shaped by industry leaders.

  2. Borrowing to Live: Consumer and Mortgage Credit Revisited

    Americans are awash in debt. Credit undergirds daily life more than ever before—it is one of the defining aspects of life in the United States today. The damage from a depressed housing market is exacerbated by the subprime lender implosion, sending shock waves through the financial sector, international economies, and the presidential campaign. Most low- or moderate-income people borrow, but they are doing it to stay afloat rather than to keep up with the Joneses. How did things go so wrong? How can we maintain and expand access to credit while protecting the consumer and avoiding a reoccurrence of the current crisis?

    In Borrowing to Live, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University bring together an elite group of experts, an eclectic group drawn from the best of academia, research, and public service. Together with editors Nicolas Retsinas and Eric Belsky, they dissect the current state of consumer and mortgage credit in the United States and help point the way out of the current impasse.

  3. Harvard's Retsinas Interview on U.S. Home Prices

    Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Nicolas Retsinas, director emeritus of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, talks about the outlook for the U.S. housing market and mortgage foreclosures. U.S. home prices have reached a bottom and may be set to rise in the first half as buyers take advantage of increased affordability, said Karl Case, the economist who co-founded the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Retsinas talks with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance Midday." (Source: Bloomberg)