WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 24, 2009) - The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) sent a letter today to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees calling for legislation that would establish a tough, new federal regulatory framework for mortgage lending to protect borrowers nationwide. In the letter, MBA offered an outline of proposed legislation, titled the Mortgage Improvement and Regulation Act (MIRA), that would establish new uniform national lending standards to replace the current patchwork of state and federal lending laws and that would also establish a new federal regulator to implement and enforce these standards.
"In order to restore confidence in the housing and mortgage markets, we need to ensure that many of the excesses that led to the current crisis aren't repeated," said John A. Courson, President and CEO of MBA. "For this reason, we are calling on Congress to create a new national regulatory framework to regularize the mortgage market and better protect consumers."
MBA's plan is centered on the creation of new lending standards and a new regulator, the Federal Mortgage Regulatory Agency (FMRA). MIRA would establish, and FMRA would be responsible for implementing and updating, the new mortgage lending and servicing standards as well as regulating independent mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers in partnership with state regulators.
"Under our proposal, we are calling for one federal regulator to implement the standards and oversee all mortgage bankers and brokers," said Courson. "That regulator would work with the appropriate federal and state regulatory bodies to effectively enforce these tough new requirements."
Among the components that MBA is calling for in the new national lending standard are:
- Many of the recently promulgated HOEPA regulations, including those requiring a determination of a borrower's ability to repay, documentation of income and assets, limits on prepayment penalties and establishment of escrow accounts for borrowers' tax and insurance payments;
- Improvements to the mortgage origination, servicing and appraisal processes some of which had been included in H.R. 3915 (which passed the House of Representatives in 2007);
- A new duty of care for mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers to assure that consumers get the facts they need to know about the loan options available and the costs of their loan transaction, including compensation to the mortgage broker; and
- A requirement that a borrower affirmatively opt-in, in writing, to a nontraditional mortgage product.
"MBA has long advocated for uniform national lending standards to protect borrowers coast to coast. One standard for all borrowers to learn and understand, and one standard for all lenders to follow will offer much better protection to consumers in every state and will help to lower costs. It will also significantly cut down on the confusing and often contradictory patchwork of state laws and regulations," added Courson.
As part of MIRA, HUD and the Federal Reserve would be required to work together in consultation with the new regulator to develop greatly simplified consumer disclosure forms, including combining Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosures to help consumers better navigate the mortgage process. Additionally, MIRA would increase resources for investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud and establish a national financial literacy and counseling program. As part of that program, MBA suggests there should be pre-purchase counseling required on certain mortgage products, primarily for first-time homebuyers.
A copy of the letter and an executive summary of the bill, as well as a more detailed outline, can be found at http://www.mortgagebankers.org/MIRA
### The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is the national association representing the real estate finance industry, an industry that employs more than 280,000 people in virtually every community in the country. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the association works to ensure the continued strength of the nation's residential and commercial real estate markets; to expand homeownership and extend access to affordable housing to all Americans. MBA promotes fair and ethical lending practices and fosters professional excellence among real estate finance employees through a wide range of educational programs and a variety of publications. Its membership of over 2,400 companies includes all elements of real estate finance: mortgage companies, mortgage brokers, commercial banks, thrifts, Wall Street conduits, life insurance companies and others in the mortgage lending field. For additional information, visit MBA's Web site: www.mortgagebankers.org .