WASHINGTON — An REO, or “real estate owned,” refers to a kind of property owned by a lender, like a bank, after a foreclosure. An Oreo is a kind of delicious sandwich cookie.
In a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday morning, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson mixed the two terms up.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., was attempting to ask Secretary Carson about disparities in REO rates. According to Porter, Federal Housing Administration loans have far more properties that become real estate owned, than other loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
“I would also like to ask you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?” asked the congresswoman.
“An Oreo…” replied Carson.
“R, no not an Oreo. An R-E-O.” shot back Porter.
“Real estate?” asked Carson.
“What’s the O stand for?” said Porter.
“E-organization?” asked Carson.
The tense exchange came during a hearing about oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has also been met with criticism over recent proposals to scale back housing subsidies for lower-income Americans.
HUD's plans to potentially remove undocumented immigrants and their U.S.-born children from subsidized housing also drew criticism from Democrats on the committee.
“It seems only logical that tax-paying American citizens should be taken care of first. It’s not that we’re cruel, mean-hearted. It’s that we are logical. This is common sense. You take care of your own first,” said Carson.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., responded.
“Mr. Secretary, the 'D' in HUD does not stand for deportation."
After the hearing, Carson tweeted a picture of himself sending a pack of "Double Stuf" Oreos to Porter, along with a note.
"To Rep. Porter: Thanks for your part in today's hearing. Hope you like the OREO(s)," it read.
On Tuesday afternoon, Oreo responded on its official Twitter account. "REO stands for 'Really Excellent OREO (cookie).' Everyone knows that."
𝗥𝗘𝗢 stands for "𝗥eally 𝗘xcellent 𝗢REO (cookie)." Everyone knows that.— OREO Cookie (@Oreo) May 21, 2019
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: HUD Secretary Ben Carson mixes up a real estate term and Oreo sandwich cookies