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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

ALTA President Shines During Congressional Hearing

July 14, 2011

ALTA President Anne Anastasi represented the title industry well Wednesday testifying before the Financial Services Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee during a hearing titled “Mortgage Origination: The Impact of Recent Changes on Homeowners and Businesses.”

Click here to view video of Anastasi’s testimony.
Click here to read the written testimony.

Anastasi participated on the second of two panels, which consisted of 10 speakers, including representatives from the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Real Estate Services Providers Council and the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, among others.

Anastasi testified that the best way to improve the mortgage origination process is to improve federally mandated mortgage disclosures, which would ultimately protect consumers and help them make educated decisions when obtaining a loan.

“Mortgage disclosure laws are primarily designed to help consumers shop for the mortgage and settlement services. While the goal of providing them with timely information about their transaction is laudable, the execution reveals some shortcomings that actually cause confusion and may be counterproductive for consumers,” Anastasi said. “As we seek to improve the mortgage origination process, we need to fundamentally rethink federal mortgage disclosure laws, which are a key part of the architecture of the current process.”

To improve federal mortgage disclosures and ensure consumers receive the information needed to shop for their mortgage and settlement services, Anastasi said disclosures should include accurate itemized estimates of costs allowing consumers to receive a complete view of their transaction and make informed decisions. Currently, costs are aggregated, which confuses consumers who are unable to reconcile the numbers on the page.

“A better solution is to return the itemization and disbursement sheet from the previous Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement,” Anastasi said. “Just like when you go out to dinner, your check doesn’t just give you a total price. Rather, each item is listed giving you a breakdown of what you pay for. These forms would allow consumers to see where their money is going and to better inquire about fees they find questionable.”

Anastasi also said that mortgage disclosures should encourage consumers to make informed choices about services that are in their financial interest.

“Rather than prejudicing consumers against considering these services by using loaded terms like ‘not required,’ mortgage disclosures should encourage homebuyers to make informed decisions about services which are in their best interest and protection,” she said. “One of these services is Owner’s Title Insurance, which, if it is purchased, indemnifies consumers against challenges to the title of their property. If we have learned anything from the foreclosure crisis, it is that consumers should be encouraged to investigate products like Owners Title Insurance that help protect the consumers’ interest.”

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