The Mortgage Bankers Association is pushing for more uniformity among its members in order to up the pace of mortgage modifications. According to MBA Chief Operating Officer John Courson, at a luncheon held at the institution's conference this week in San Diego, the use of short sales as a way to help struggling borrowers avoid foreclosure is not an entirely positive step for the industry. "The [former owners] will still need a place to live," Courson said, adding that under government programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should forebear mortgage payments for up to 12 months in the case of borrower unemployment. Courson is also critical of state mandates, such as in Nevada, where a mediator is required in order to do a modification. The MBA believe that using a third party, at this point in the recession, is only slowing down the rate of modifications perhaps to the detriment of the borrower. The MBA is putting together a 'think tank' according to chief economist Jay Brinkmann in order to help deal with the shifting distressed borrower landscape., especially considering that most loan in default are 30-year fixed. For instance, there is no point in modifying a mortgage to a 31% debt-to-income ratio if the borrower is earning no income. Indeed, in a panel yesterday a Fannie Mae speaker noted that the agency is struggling to understand changing borrower instinct, such as in instances where a home owner prioritizes their first and even second credit card bills over their monthly mortgage payments. Courson added that the majority of bad subprime loans "had been dealt with," though the majority of distressed borrowers still avoid contact with their servicers. These borrowers are at particular risk of fraudsters and scams that prey on troubled homeowners. Write to Jacob Gaffney.