BLOG VIEW: The MBA Agenda For Industry Improvement

I can assume that the vast majority of Mortgage Orb visitors know about the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The organization is, after all, the largest of its kind and serves as the industry's voice on Capitol Hill.

However, I speculate that many of our readers don't have time to stay abreast of precisely what the MBA is doing, nor do they routinely visit the organization's Web site. But I do, so I'd like to share some of the MBA's observations and opinions.

The association recently issued an ‘Agenda to Stabilize the Housing Market.’ A link to this agenda is parked front-and-center at www.mortgagebankers.org, atop its ‘MBA News’ section.

An agenda always appeals to me – but especially when it's thoughtfully conceived and blessed by an entire organization, as well as tidily numerated. Indeed, the MBA's agenda is a succinct, 10-point action plan for getting borrowers, lenders and the industry as a whole back on their feet. It also outlines strategies for ‘ensuring that the problems we see in today's market do not recur,’ the MBA says.

The agenda:

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) modernization
  • reformed government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) regulation
  • tax incentives to halt home-price depreciation
  • borrower "rescue plans"
  • tax-free mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) from housing finance agencies
  • a national anti-predatory lending standard
  • loan-originator licensing
  • enhanced disclosures
  • accurate appraisals
  • a fight against fraud

These 10 items are heavy. The intricacies of each are too challenging to adequately examine in a few hundred words – or several thousand, for that matter. Even the MBA, within its agenda document, keeps its commentary simple and tight.

‘Simple,’ however, doesn't come close to describing today's market issues, nor the needed solutions. And I don't mean to imply that the MBA believes the solutions are simple. Far from it.

Just take another look at the list above, and see which items seem familiar. You'll likely find that only three of the 10 agenda points – tax incentives, borrower rescues and MRBs – are recently proposed solutions.

The balance of the points? Anyone who has been involved in mortgage origination, secondary marketing or a related field knows that issues such as FHA modernization, GSE reform and originator licensing have been in circulation for a long time – certainly since before the current credit and housing meltdown. And none of these issues has been simple to remedy.

This is not to say that the MBA is behind the eight ball. Rather, I am highlighting how difficult it has been for the mortgage banking industry to push meaningful reforms through the appropriate channels. This is troubling, considering that – perhaps – some of today's problems might have been avoided if more legislators and regulators stood behind the mortgage banking industry years ago.

But more disconcerting is that even now, when the pangs of crisis are acute at all corners of housing and real estate finance, these perennial agenda points are still trapped in the maw of inefficiency instead of being expeditiously adopted.

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