As Barney Frank Leaves Congress, Will New Reverse Mortgage Friends Emerge?

Whether you are a Barney Frank (D-Mass.) fan or not, there’s no question Frank has left his mark on reverse mortgages during his House tenure over the past decades.

Most recently, he co-penned the mammoth Dodd-Frank Act that has left—and continues to leave—a lasting impression on the industry through changes across the board such as adjustments to the way loan officers are compensated to the creation and launch of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which, under its authority, is taking a close look at home equity conversion mortgages.

But Frank has also served as a knowledgable and active supporter of reverse mortgages, at a time when the industry as a whole still faces the task of educating those in Washington who are in decision-making positions.

Who will take Barney’s place? It’s not an easy question to answer, but RMD took a look at some figures in the nation’s capitol who could have the potential to step up as allies of the reverse mortgage industry as Barney Frank winds down his role in the House of Representatives.

Mike Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) has in the past expressed his support of reverse mortgages through legislation he introduced in 2005. The bill, “Reverse Mortgages to Help America’s Seniors Act,” sought to raise the cap for reverse mortgages, which, at the time, stood at 250,000 in number. The legislation aimed to remove the cap entirely. Fitzpatrick now sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

Maxine Waters. Waters (D-Calif.) teamed up with Frank in 2007 to introduce the Expanded Home Ownership Act of 2007. The bill aimed to modernize and update the National Housing Act and enable the Federal Housing Administration to use risk-based pricing to more effectively reach underserved borrowers, and for other purposes. Waters also advocated FHA reform more recently last year, and has spoken strongly for homeowner protections, including anti-cross-selling measures as they apply to reverse mortgages.

Carolyn Maloney. Maloney (D-N.Y.) could be a contender for a ranking member seat in the house. Her on-the-record reverse mortgage support has mainly been relating to reverse mortgages and co-ops in New York City. Most recently, in August she co-signed a letter addressed to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan urging the agency to allow for condo owners to obtain reverse mortgages. “If done well, reverse mortgages have the potential to help older consumers, especially those who own co-ops in NYC,” Rep. Maloney said at the time. “Often these seniors’ homes are their  largest asset. By freeing up the equity in those homes, seniors can remain in their homes and live comfortably.”

Judy Biggert. Biggert (R-Ill.) has spoken in support of reverse mortgages during her tenure, including statements in an AARP several years ago where she called reverse mortgages a “great financial tool.” Singe then, Biggert has been a supporter of FHA reform, as well as restoration of reverse mortgage counseling funds earlier this year.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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