United States: Senate Banking Committee Continues Examination Of Housing Finance Reform

Last Updated: November 4 2013
Article by Andrew Olmem

Yesterday, the Senate Banking Committee continued its examination of housing finance reform with a hearing entitled "Essentials of a Functioning Housing Finance System for Consumers." The witnesses were: Mr. Eric Stein, Senior Vice President, Center for Responsible Lending;; Mr. Rohit Gupta, President, Genworth Financial, Inc.;; Mr. Gary Thomas, President, National Association of Realtors (NAR);; Mr. Laurence E. Platt, Partner, K&L Gates;; Ms. Alys Cohen, Staff Attorney, National Consumer Law Center;; Mr. Lautaro Diaz, Vice President, Housing and Community Development, National Council of La Raza.

Chairman Tim Johnson's (D-­SD) opening statement expressed his concerns about the impact of stricter underwriting standards on the ability of creditworthy borrowers to obtain mortgages (especially in rural and underserved markets). He emphasized the need to ensure that the mortgage market is accessible to all responsible borrowers. In contrast, Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-­ID) pointed out that one of the major causes of the financial crisis was a significant deterioration in underwriting standards. Based on this experience, he argued that if the federal government provides a guarantee for mortgages, it should be conditioned on strong underwriting standards to protect taxpayers. He also stressed that if Congress takes actions that call into question the validity of mortgage contracts, future homeowners could end up paying significantly higher rates.

Mr. Stein provided several recommendations on how to structure a reformed housing finance system, including recommending that secondary market entities: (1) have a mutual ownership structure (similar to that of the Federal Home Loan Banks);; (2) perform both issuer and guarantor functions;; (3) be required to serve all eligible lenders across the country;; and (4) have the ability to hold distressed-­then-­modified loans, along with a government backstop to support this loan portfolio in times of economic stress. In addition, he advocated preserving small lenders' direct access to the secondary markets without having to go through an aggregator and prohibiting structured securities from accessing government reinsurance. Finally, Mr. Stein recommended against including specific underwriting criteria (particularly down payment requirements) in any reform legislation because it would restrict access to credit.

Although he applauded the Corker-­Warner legislation (S. 1217) for laying the foundation for housing finance reform, Mr. Thomas highlighted several concerns NAR members have with the bill. He recommended that: (1) the 5 percent down payment requirement be removed;; (2) the conforming loan limit not be lowered;; (3) the 10 percent first-­loss position for private investors in government guaranteed mortgage-­back securities be eliminated;; (4) the legislation include a competitive cash window for small lenders;; (5) the portfolios of the GSEs be preserved;; and (6) Fair Value Accounting not be used to determine the cost of any mortgage insurance fund.

Mr. Platt addressed whether any reform legislation should impose stringent loss mitigation standards on servicers and owners of securitized residential mortgage loans. In his view, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's newly enacted servicing regulations are sufficient and no new law is required. Mr. Gupta discussed the role of mortgage insurance in housing finance and expressed strong support for the mortgage insurance provisions in the Corker-­Warner legislation.

In her testimony, Ms. Cohen recommended that housing reform focus on access and affordability. To achieve this goal, she recommended requiring lenders to serve all population segments, housing types, and geographical locations, but noted that any reform legislation should not mandate specific underwriting requirements. Ms. Cohen also advocated for: (1) requiring servicers to provide loan modifications that benefit both investors and homeowners;; (2) prohibiting the "dual-­tracking" of foreclosures and loss mitigations;; (3) authorizing the new mortgage insurer to directly purchase force-­placed insurance;; and (4) the creation of a federal electronic registry for housing finance to track servicing rights as well as the ownership of mortgages, deeds, and promissory notes.

Finally, Mr. Diaz's testimony focused on the role of housing counseling in helping to increase access to credit for hard-­to-­serve markets. He recommended that housing reform improve the effectiveness of HUD-­approved housing counseling agencies by integrating housing counseling into any entity that replaces Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He advocated for: (1) requiring servicers to work with housing counseling agencies;; (2) providing homeowners with access to all mitigation options;; and (3) prohibiting dual-­track servicing. He also stated that strong affordability requirements are paramount and should be made explicit.

During the questioning, Chairman Johnson inquired about the impact of a minimum down payment requirement, to which Mr. Thomas responded that it would shut out first-­time homebuyers and stall the housing market. In her questioning, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-­ MA) stressed the need to prevent the largest banks from dominating the secondary market. Senator Sherwood Brown (D-­OH) inquired whether mortgage servicing should be included in any reform legislation, while Senator Robert Menendez (D-­NJ) argued against increasing the conforming loan limit.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions