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MBA tells regulators banks "stretched thin" with new rules

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The Mortgage Bankers Association sent two letters to federal regulators this week, warning that tomes of new rules being written are taking a toll on the banks trying to keep up. In one letter, the MBA warned the design of the "qualified mortgage" under the Dodd-Frank Act, which was written to crack down on risky lending, could unnecessarily constrict the mortgage market and lenders should "retain discretion" for determining who can and cannot receive a loan. "We must also remember that many of the loan products and characteristics under consideration to be restricted were, for many years, not problematic when underwritten prudently," according to the letter. Dodd-Frank requires federal regulators draft rules requiring mortgage securitizers keep some economic interest of the underlying assets' credit risk. Few loans outside of this new qualified construct will be made, according to the MBA, therefore if the terms are too tight, getting a mortgage will be much harder. The MBA said adjustable-rate mortgages and others with terms longer than 30 years should be exempt from the qualified residential mortgage requirement. In the second letter sent to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the MBA said the wave of new rules may threaten mortgage availability for a still weakened housing market. "Major changes under TILA, including HOEPA revisions, and new loan officer compensation rules, along with new RESPA disclosures, SAFE Act compliance and appraisal standards, to name a few, have stretched thin the compliance capabilities of financial institutions," according to the MBA. The association suggested tabling efforts to improve TILA disclosures in lieu of combining RESPA and TILA and simplifying many other requirements. Write to Jon Prior.

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