Mortgage bankers tap Congress for real estate finance reform

April 19, 2005

Trade group wants higher FHA loan limits, extended terrorism reinsurance

Inman News

As part of the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual National Policy Conference, more than 350 mortgage bankers from across the country will gather this week in the nation's capital to seek support from Congress for legislation to ensure the continued strength of the nation's residential and commercial/multifamily real estate markets and expand home ownership to all Americans through affordable housing.

"Mortgage bankers are using this opportunity to illustrate to Congress the important role the real estate finance industry plays in the U.S. economy," said Michael F. Petrie, MBA's chairman and president of Carmel, Ind.-based P/R Mortgage & Investment Corp. "The better our industry performs, the better it is for all Americans."

"Through personal visits to congressional offices, our members will advocate prominent industry issues directly to their members of Congress," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, MBA's senior vice president of government affairs. "These one-on-one conversations will help federal lawmakers better understand the impact of our industry's issues on the states and districts they represent."

MBA members will be conducting meetings with their House and Senate representatives on the following MBA legislative items:

  • S. 190 and H.R. 1461, legislation that aims to improve oversight of the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). MBA supports the creation of a new, independently funded regulator with broad powers to ensure the safety and soundness of the GSEs, establish their risk-based and minimum capital levels, and keep the GSEs focused on their charter purposes.
  • S. 467 and H.R. 1153, legislation that reauthorizes and extends the federal terrorism reinsurance provided by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). The legislation would extend TRIA and its "make-available" provision through 2007, maintaining the stability of the commercial real estate finance industry.
  • H.R. 1295, legislation that aims to stop predatory lending in the marketplace. For many years, MBA has attempted to fight predatory lending in communities across the country. However, the proliferation of state and local laws on this issue has resulted in a bewildering regulatory landscape that is both difficult and costly to decipher.
  • S. 580 and H.R. 1010, the modernization of real estate mortgage investment conduit (REMIC) provisions in the tax code. These changes are expected to have little impact on federal tax revenue. They will, however, greatly enhance the ability of commercial real estate property owners to upgrade property and perform customary property management activities after the mortgage has been securitized, without the need for costly and burdensome tax opinions.
  • H.R. 176, legislation to raise the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage limit to the conforming loan limit. Currently, the FHA loan limit for high-cost areas is $312,895, while the conforming limit is $359,650. MBA believes that aligning FHA's loan limits with the conforming loan limit in these high-cost areas will broaden the housing stock available to FHA borrowers without shifting FHA from its focus on first-time home buyers and the underserved. Potential home buyers in many high-cost markets would be better able to access FHA's low-down-payment financing if loan limits were raised.

Copyright 2005 Inman News

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