‘It’s Our Day to Tell Our Story’

WASHINGTON–Mortgage Bankers Association Chairman David Motley, CMB, says the MBA National Advocacy Conference is one of his favorite events.

“It’s our day to tell our story,” he said. “When we go to Capitol Hill, it’s our chance to show our members of Congress who we are.”

Advocacy is an important part of what MBA members do, Motley said. “We have the knowledge; we have the power to set our own path and pave our own future. By working with our members of Congress we can help achieve legislation and regulations that strike the appropriate balance between sound supervision and consumer protections.”

Nearly 400 MBA members from across the country met this week in Washington to hear from elected officials and federal agencies. Following a morning “pep rally” yesterday, participants flocked to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and staffs to discuss key real estate finance issues.

MBA said more than 2,000 Hill meetings took place yesterday.

On Tuesday, participants heard from HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Patenaude (see story below), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., as well as media pundits. Yesterday, they heard from Reps. French Hill, R-Ark., and Denny Heck, D-Wash., both members of the House Financial Services Committee.

FrenchHillHill told participants that Republicans on the committee continue to support efforts to reduce the regulatory footprint of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He praised Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, calling the Bureau in its current form “unwieldy,” and expressed support for an MBA-endorsed bill that would change the leadership structure of the CFPB from a single director to a five-person commission.

“Compliance burdens are what drive small firms out of business,” Hill said. “It’s these laws that make the ability to raise capital difficult, to attract the people they need, and hampers innovation.”

Hill said he was initially hopeful that the Trump Administration would move forward with housing finance reform, but expressed frustration about the slow pace. “I recognize that tax reform was the initial priority of this Administration, but we have to be capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time,” he said. “I’m hopeful that the Administration and the Treasury Department will engage with Congress and move forward with comprehensive housing finance reform.”

Hill expressed optimism that the House can improve S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which passed the Senate earlier this year with several MBA-supported provisions.

“It’s not a perfect bill,” he said, echoing comments yesterday by Crapo, the bill’s main sponsor. “I think the House can make some improvements to the bill and get it on the President’s desk soon.”

DennyHeckHeck said housing is an important issue to him–his district in central Puget Sound has seen the highest price appreciation in the country, as well as a growing homeless population.

“We need more housing. Period. End of sentence,” Heck said. “We have to think of housing as part of a bigger ecosystem, and to improve that ecosystem, we need to be building more housing units if we’re going to solve housing problems.”

Heck noted that in his district, a house listed at $385,000 sold for $475,000 after a bidding war involving 15 prospective buyers–a typical scenario in the white-hot Seattle market. “This is having an impact on first-time buyers, on renters and on each of us,” he said. “There isn’t a single economic activity that stirs economic growth greater than home purchases…Americans want to own homes.”

Heck said we are underbuilding by “millions” of home. “Home purchases are the number-one wealth-building activity, as well as for retirement,” he said. “And we are putting this out of reach.”

Heck said he supports efforts by MBA to encourage broader participation in the Federal home Loan Banks. An amendment to S. 2155 that would have improved eligibility standards for FHLB membership failed in the Senate but is under consideration in the House version.

“I think it is incumbent on any member of the House Financial Services Committee to be willing to consider any bill that addresses the goal of creating more housing,” he said.