Housing needs mortgage servicing standards: OCC
National mortgage servicing standards will be an essential part of the new housing market, acting comptroller of the currency John Walsh said Tuesday. But reaching a consensus on how to devise those standards is a struggle that will take more work, he conceded, while speaking to the American Bankers Association. In fact, state attorneys general said earlier in the week their offices are clashing on how to develop servicing standards that will apply across all jurisdictions. Walsh addressed this dilemma in his Tuesday speech, saying, "This is a complex endeavor, complete resolution of which involves 12 federal agencies and potentially 50 state attorneys general. The goal is for all parties to conclude their work and announce resolution of their respective actions at the same time. We each have our own separate responsibilities and areas of jurisdiction, but to the extent possible, we are trying to coordinate our actions. Whether this is possible, remains to be seen." But, it's not just servicing standards that Walsh is concerned about. On Tuesday, the comptroller said while he supports Dodd-Frank, he sees room for discussion on how to ensure the act does not prevent a housing recovery. One of those challenges is a requirement in Dodd-Frank that says securitizers of mortgage loans should retain at least a 5% stake in the loans they securitize. Walsh said many fear this provision could chase out the securitization market altogether. To respond to those fears, regulators and the OCC are drafting a proposal to improve Dodd-Frank's treatment of securitization. "Since we are not yet ready to publish this proposal, I’ll be limited in what I say this morning," he said. "However, I think it’s vital that we craft a final rule that does not impede the revival of the securitization markets. We will be hard pressed to fund the needs of American consumers, particularly in the area of housing, without securitization, and right now it’s hard to find a sign of life in that industry." Write to Kerri Panchuk.