With mortgage rates above 7%, historically low levels of housing inventory, defaults in commercial real estate, and a series of potentially onerous regulations to come, Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Bob Broeksmit said the trade group is doing all its can to influence policymakers.
“MBA cannot control macroeconomic forces, but what we can do is make sure the actions of policymakers help our industry instead of hindering it at a crucial time,” Broeksmit said at the organization’s Compliance and Risk Management Conference this week in Washington, D.C.
Broeksmit highlighted the group’s work in helping a bill about remote online notarization get through the divided U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would create federal minimum standards to allow notaries to perform remote online notarization (RON) transactions. The MBA also supported Rep. John Rose (R-TN)’s effort to curb trigger leads, he said.
Broeksmit also touched on agency-focused policy work, citing the cancelation of a controversial Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) policy that would have imposed a controversial upfront fee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers with higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios.
The trade group has its eyes on other challenges ahead, including a proposal by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury that would label non-bank financial entities as systemically important financial institutions, which MBA opposes.
“This will be a major regulatory power grab over a part of the housing finance market that is already well-regulated by the states and other federal agencies,” Broeksmit said. “If FSOC is concerned about the core banking activities taking place outside the purview of prudential bank regulation, then it should reconsider the regulatory environment that has caused the exit of so many traditional depository institutions from the marketplace in the first place. If you regulate everyone out of the business, who is left to originate and service these loans?”
MBA is also looking ahead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision expected early next year that will decide the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Broeksmit added.
“While the MBA has its disagreements with many of the Bureau’s regulatory actions, we have a strong position on the need for consistency and our opposition to chaos,” he said, noting the MBA has filed an amicus brief saying as much.
MBA is also keeping an eye on a developing case before the U.S. District Court for Maryland where the CFPB and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are aiming to make lenders liable for actions of third-party appraisers when those actions result in bias or discrimination during the valuation process, which MBA is also against.
“Lenders cannot be held vicariously liable on fair lending grounds for the actions or inputs of an independent third party such as an appraiser or [automated valuation model (AVM)] provider,” Broeksmit said. “AVMs hold great promise as an opportunity to alleviate appraiser shortages, minimize bias and reduce transaction costs. Clear rules of the road are necessary so we will stay engaged with federal policymakers on ways to reduce bias and improve accuracy for AVM users of all sizes and business models.”