Industry professionals attending the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) National Secondary Marketing Conference in New York City yesterday could be excused if they believed they wandered into the wrong gathering – the trade association that represents the mortgage banking industry seemed to have rebranded itself as the nation's newest consumer advocacy group.
‘The ability to reinvent yourself takes leadership,’ said Michael W. Young, MBA chairman, in remarks at the conference's opening session, noting that the voice of mortgage bankers also spoke for the industry's customers. ‘We are speaking loudly on behalf of consumers.’
David H. Stevens, MBA president and CEO, took the consumer cause further when addressing a number of industry-related topics. For example, Stevens viewed the recent retreat of several major companies from the residential mortgage space through the consumers' spectrum.
‘We need more competition, not less,’ he said. ‘This is not healthy for consumers.’
Nor is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's notion of a qualified mortgage (QM), Stevens continued.
‘QM is the holy grail of who gets access to homeownership,’ he said.
Stevens trumpeted a pair of consumer-facing MBA initiatives: a financial literacy endeavor co-developed with EverFi for prospective homeowners, and the launch of the Open Doors Foundation grant program for homeowners caring for a critically ill or injured child. He pointed to these efforts as evidence of the trade group's commitment to the wider population.
Stevens urged that the industry embrace the Open Doors Foundation – which was first announced at last October's MBA National Convention – by either partnering in the program or making tax-deductible donations to fund the effort.
‘I know you all share in our support for children and families,’ he said.
At a press briefing during the conference, Stevens also used one of the MBA's newer priorities – the proposal to pool together Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities into a ‘fungible, pooled, TBA-eligible securities market’ – into a cause that would ultimately benefit the average American.
‘The taxpayer subsidizes the lender for the difference between the two,’ Stevens said, noting that Fannie Mae guarantees $200 billion in notes, while Freddie Mac trades approximately $10 billion in mortgage bonds daily.
‘Taxpayers will be saved hundreds of millions of dollars because the execution will no longer be subsidized,’ he noted.
Stevens added that rather than rely on a politically divided Congress to approve this proposal, the Federal Housing Finance Agency could take care of this new approach to secondary marketing – while simultaneously helping the industry and the consumer.
‘This action doesn't require legislation,’ Stevens said. ‘We can do this right now to the benefit of taxpayers, homeowners, the mortgage market system and the economy.’