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Obama Outlines Housing Reform Goals In Speech
WASHINGTON (8/7/13)--President Barack Obama on Tuesday again entered the debate on the future of housing finance, outlining his principles for market reforms in a speech delivered in Phoenix, Ariz.

"We have to build a housing system that's durable and fair and rewards responsibility for generations to come," Obama said in his remarks.

Obama in a release said credit unions and other small institutions "must be given the same opportunity to compete in any future system to ensure that consumers have the broadest number of options."

Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney said "much of what the president discussed is consistent with CUNA's principles for housing finance reform.We're gratified to see that he is also recommending credit unions and other small institutions have the same opportunity to compete in any future system."

Ensuring widespread access to safe, responsible financing like the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is another pillar Obama proposed. Maintaining consumer access to products that provide predictable, affordable mortgage payments to qualified borrowers, such as the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, is one of the principles CUNA has said must be a part of any mortgage market reform effort. The continued availability of the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has been a consistent theme in CUNA's testimony to the U.S. Congress on housing issues.

Other housing reform priorities detailed in an Obama administration release include:
  • Putting private capital at the center of the housing finance system;
  • Winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Ensuring prospective homeowners receive a single, simple three-page mortgage disclosure form;
  • Increasing incentives for lenders to deliver high quality loans and products; and
  • Supporting affordability and access for renters and homeownership for first-time buyers, in part by continuing the historic affordability role of Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
Additional market fixes promoted by the Obama administration include streamlining refinancing for borrowers with government-insured mortgages, waiving closing costs for homeowners that borrowers who refinance into shorter term loans, and expanding mortgage refinancing eligibility to borrowers without government-backed mortgages by creating special programs through the FHA or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The administration estimated these changes could result in $3,000 or more in yearly savings for eligible families.

Obama said the government would also need to establish bright-line rules for when mortgage guarantees would be rescinded. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to update its rules along these lines, and will work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency and other federal agencies to institute a common framework for government guarantees across the market, he said.

The president also called on regulators to implement mortgage related rules in a way that encourages the clarity and certainty that leads to broad access to credit and a safe and sound system.

For more on the Obama administration's mortgage plans, use the resource link.

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