David Stevens, former FHA Commissioner and MBA President, has died

Longtime industry advocate had been battling cancer

David Stevens, a legend of the mortgage banking industry who helmed the Federal Housing Agency and the Mortgage Bankers Association in a career that spanned four decades, has died. He was 66.

“The real estate finance community mourns the loss today of one of its great leaders and fiercest advocates,” current MBA President Bob Broeksmit said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Dave Stevens grew up in the mortgage business before serving the industry and its customers both as FHA Commissioner during and immediately after the 2008 financial crisis and then as President & CEO of MBA, where he was instrumental in rebuilding our organization and leading the industry out of the Great Recession.”

Broeksmit described Stevens as “great mentor, boss, and friend. He was quick with a joke, sometimes at his own expense, and truly cared about those he worked with and those who worked for him. Dave and his wife Mary were instrumental in the 2011 creation of the MBA Opens Doors Foundation, which has helped more than 16,000 families with crucially ill or injured children stay in their homes while their child is in treatment.”

He added: “MBA and the entire industry will miss Dave’s voice, leadership, and friendship. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, his children, and the rest of his family.”  

A fierce advocate for the industry, Stevens became a loan officer in 1983 in Colorado, rising through the ranks of World Savings during a 16-year tenure. He left for Freddie Mac in 1995, where he was senior vice president of single family lending and led product development, credit risk and contract negotiations for all single family businesses.

Following stints at Wells Fargo and Long & Foster Companies, in 2009, President Obama appointed Stevens to serve as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Stevens oversaw FHA programs for single and multifamily housing for two years. He left government service and became president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

More recently, he was the chief executive officer of Mountain Lake Consulting, Inc., a financial services consulting firm focused on real estate finance.

Rick Roque, vice president of CrossCountry Mortgage and an industry consultant on partnerships and retail acquisitions, said Stevens is “a legend of a figure.” He was a “real leader whose advice was carefully listened to by industry practitioners, policymakers and regulators,” Roque added.

“I’ve never known someone with such a deep knowledge of all channels of the business, who was so like-ably charismatic and helpful to just about anyone. His approachability made his influence so strong and genuine.”

Julia Gordon, the current FHA Commissioner, said she was “deeply saddened” by the untimely loss. “When I was nominated for the FHA Commissioner position, Dave helped me navigate the confirmation process and generously shared advice and reflections from his experience. At FHA, I’ve come to know that not only did Dave’s time at FHA leave a tremendous imprint on the office, but it earned him the lasting admiration and personal affection of so many who worked with him at HUD.”

A prolific writer who frequently advocated for policies that would remove homeownership barriers for low- and moderate income households, Stevens penned dozens of opinion articles for industry publications, including HousingWire.

“His list of accomplishments too long to share,” wrote Greg Sher, managing director at NFM Lending. “His impact on the mortgage industry too large to quantify. I am in tears right now. He was a larger than life figure to me and so many others. Among his proudest moments….being leaned on by the president of the United States to help guide the country through the financial crisis in his role as US Assistant Secretary of Housing.”

Stevens had been battling prostate cancer for the better part of a decade, and he spoke often about treatment and perseverance.

“Despite facing his own health challenges, David’s relentless commitment to improving the U.S. Housing Finance Industry never wavered,” Brian Vieaux, president of FinLocker, wrote in a LinkedIn post. “His leadership and advocacy in roles ranging from Assistant Secretary of Housing to CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association set a standard of excellence.”

Many on social media reflected on Stevens’ Washingtonian management style and sense of humor.

“Although I admire him for his market knowledge and political instincts, I mostly learned some very important lessons on running a team from him: He didn’t have all of the answers or all of the expertise,” wrote Andrew Szalay, who worked on policy matters at the MBA and is now president and CEO of Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity. “He trusted his generals and lieutenants to help him make the organization successful. And he had a way that made me want to do whatever I could to answer his question thoroughly, succinctly, and persuasively. He also taught me to not take some things too seriously. (When he started, he wanted his email to be [email protected], but settled on dave@, which was Dave, and better than dstevens@.) And what a smile he had.”

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