After defaulting on their foreign-debt obligations in the 1980s, several Latin American countries had to restructure their economies to boost market-led growth. Some of the ensuing housing reforms promoted mortgage expansion and mass housing production. Mexico was among the first countries to follow this logic, and in a particularly aggressive manner. Credit liberalization allowed a handful of real estate firms to experience massive expansions in their operations in the 2000s as they were able to build lower-middle-income housing at an accelerated rate by accessing public, pension and private equity funds. Brazil eventually appropriated some aspects of the Mexican housing model, but not others. In the late 2000s, Brazil began providing deep subsidies to low-income households to connect the private supply of housing with a publicly subsidized demand. This article discusses, challenges and moves beyond prior analyses of these processes by contrasting the two countries’ housing finance models and examining the more recent (2010s) evolution and normative shifts in their housing and urban development policy agendas. Despite the direct policy transfer between the two contexts, the South-South comparative analysis presented in the article highlights the fluctuating and unstable nature of financialization processes given the varied inclination of national governments to manage, promote or restrict them, or to contain or accentuate capitalist crises and their implications.