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Housing Reform Still a Concern in 2014, CUNA Notes
WASHINGTON (1/9/14)--Healthcare reform, regulatory issues, foreign policy and appropriations are among House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) list of January priorities for Republican U.S. House members. While housing finance reform was not mentioned in a recent Cantor memo to Republican colleagues, Sam Whitfield, Credit Union National Association vice president of legislative affairs, said this does not mean that issue has been moved to the back burner.

The Senate Banking Committee held weekly hearings on the topic late last year, and is still working to craft plans for a future housing finance market. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also continued to press for Federal Housing Agency reforms as recently as last month, and he continues to promote his bill, the "Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowner (PATH) Act of 2013" (H.R. 2767). The PATH Act would phase out government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within five years, end the federal government guarantee and reduce government involvement in the housing finance system, and give consumers more choices in determining which mortgage product best suits their needs.

CUNA continues to advocate for credit unions as housing reform moves forward. CUNA has repeatedly said that credit unions appreciate the need to reform the current housing finance system, but any reforms must not hinder the ability of credit unions to meet their members' housing finance needs in a member-friendly cooperative way. CUNA has also said that the transition from the current system to any new housing finance system must be reasonable and orderly, and the transition deadline needs to be flexible.

Other CUNA suggestions for a future mortgage market include:
  • There must be a neutral third party in the secondary market, with its sole role as a conduit to the secondary market;
  • The secondary market must be open to lenders of all sizes on an equitable basis;
  • The new housing finance system should emphasize consumer education and counseling as a means to ensure that borrowers receive appropriate mortgage loans;
  • The new system must include consumer access to products that provide for predictable, affordable mortgage payments to qualified borrowers; and
  • The new housing finance system should apply a reasonable conforming loan limit that adequately takes into consideration local real estate costs in higher cost areas.
Credit unions must also remain vigilant as tax reform discussions resume this month.

CUNA is watching out for the release of more tax reform discussion drafts in the coming weeks, and continues to encourage credit unions and their members to use CUNA and state credit union league resources, social media sites including Facebook, and micro-video site Vine, to tell their legislators, "Don't Tax My Credit Union!"

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