Mortgage Bankers Association Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann detailed the underlying speed bumps for housing recovery Thursday, and warned regulators that new rules in lending and servicing may only add to the problem. Brinkmann gave a presentation at the MBA Servicing conference in Grapevine, Texas, starting out with optimistic views on employment, which has been on the rise since just before 2010 and should continue in the year ahead. In January, the unemployment rate fell to 9%. "These aren't the big improvements you would like to see, but we are no longer heading in the wrong direction," Brinkmann said. Other than unemployment, the overhang of 8 million homes either on the market for sale or trapped somewhere in the foreclosure process is keeping housing from making bigger strides to recovery. But Brinkmann also pointed to the tightened credit availability that arose since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began making massive mortgage repurchase demands. Since then, he said, lenders have been increasing the amount of appraisals and fraud checks required. And, he said, there are more outright refusals to write a mortgage. Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration have been requiring lower loan-to-value ratios and higher credit scores as well, Brinkmann said. Then, he switched gears, adding that new rules coming out of the Dodd-Frank Act, specifically the qualified residential mortgage, or QRM rule, will only make it harder for lending to pick up and for more consumers to eat through that inventory overhang. Regulators are busy writing the QRM standard. According to Dodd-Frank, the originator will have to take the first 5% of losses on any loan written outside these minimum requirements such as downpayment, FICO score and LTV ratio, if it goes into default. "You're going to see more risk-based pricing, fewer borrowers who will get market interest rates and a return of the specter in pricing differences, specifically for race and locale," Brinkmann said. As for the new national mortgage servicing standard in the works, Brinkmann complained that new customer responsibilities regarding delinquent borrowers will only add costs to servicers and eventually the borrowers themselves. "When did it shift from being loan servicers to social servicing agencies?" Brinkmann said. "There's certainly a limit to what we can do to fix all of their life problems." In a revealing sign that the industry may be reluctant to take up standards considered too tough, Brinkmann's comments were met with applause. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior