The head of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has warned that recovery for the housing market will be hampered by ‘uncoordinated regulations.’
In a speech delivered yesterday before the trade group's annual servicing conference, MBA President and CEO David H. Stevens repeated his concerns about the surplus of federal regulatory entities that are not working in unison.
‘It's the consumers and homeowners that will ultimately be restricted from buying and maintaining their homes due to overlapping, overly restrictive and uncoordinated regulations,’ Stevens said. ‘It's minorities, middle-class and first-time buyers that will feel the greatest impact.’
Stevens had previously called on the White House to create a new office of Housing Policy Coordinator to direct the regulatory traffic. The Obama administration never publicly acknowledged Stevens' suggestion, though he added that he was encouraged by housing-related statements made by the president during the State of the Union address.
‘Clearly, the administration gets it at an intellectual level, but now we need to make sure they get it at the operational level,’ Stevens said.
Although servicers have been the subject of harsh comments by a number of federal regulators during the past year, Stevens offered public praise for this segment of the mortgage industry.
‘"What we know, and isn't talked about nearly enough, is how much the servicing industry accomplished on its own, achieving much more than any government program,’ he said to the servicers attending the MBA conference. ‘You had to do it all – servicing customers, complying with new government guidelines and programs that seemed to change every month, while also implementing new business strategies from your own companies. The spotlight was on you, and you came through.’
Stevens also praised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for being willing to listen to the industry's concerns.
‘The CFPB finally released the Servicing Standards Rule in January, which is beginning to provide some certainty around servicing, but we still have some significant reservations about the rule,’ Stevens said. ‘We commend the CFPB for an open and transparent process. We may not always agree, but we have been heard. I can't count the number of times MBA staff and our member servicers had the opportunity to sit down and explain the practical implications of the potential changes that that CFPB wanted to make to the servicing business model. We now have, for the first time, a comprehensive set of national servicing standards.
‘There are volumes of detail in the nuances of the nearly 800-page servicing rules,’ Stevens added. ‘The MBA secured significant wins on many issues; for example, the removal from the proposed rule of the ability to make oral error resolution and information requests. In the final rule, there is no private right of action on general servicing policies, procedures and requirements and continuity of contact. And finally, the smaller servicer exemption was expanded. Not as far as we would like, but far better than as originally drafted.’