Former executives from PMI Group, Fannie Mae (FNM) and Countrywide started an organization that represents the interests of independent mortgage banking companies and the group is already halfway past its initial goal of recruiting 50 member institutions. The Community Mortgage Banking Project is led by co-founder Glen Corso, a former PMI Group executive in public and government relations. Corso said the group’s focus is to provide “a voice for and represent the views of independent mortgage banking companies,” through analysis of regulation and legislative changes, lobbying, policy work and public relations on the behalf of its members institutions. On Monday, the 27th lender joined the project. The annual origination volume of the groups ranges from $300m to $10bn. Corso estimated the sector is responsible for nearly 40% of the nation’s mortgage origination volume and approximately 55% of all Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured loans. Corso is working with Robert Engelstad, whose held executive positions most recently at Fannie Mae and previously at the FHA during his more than 20 years in the mortgage industry, and lobbyist Pete Mills, who ran Countrywide’s Washington DC office, and previously lobbied for the state Realtor and mortgage banker associations in California. What separates this new group from other larger industry groups is that the Community Mortgage Banking Project has a niche target of regional independent lenders and mortgage origination units of small community banks it looks to serve. “We’re trying to maintain a homogenous membership so that the views we take will reflect the views of that industry,” Corso said. “We’re not looking for a broad or diverse kind of membership the way you might find at some other organizations.” One of the group’s first legislative priorities is the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) that if approved, would change how financial institutions large and small are regulated. Corso said the CFPA’s oversight should not allow for “federal preemption” of state banking laws and that all banks should be required to comply with the laws of the states where they do business to create a level playing field. “If there’s going to be a dual system of state and federal regulation, that should apply to everybody, whether you’re a large bank holding company or a small in-state company like many of our members,” Corso said. The group is also concerned about how future legislative changes will affect the “originate to sell” business. The group members’ business model revolves are originating loans and selling them in the secondary market, but Corso said this model is receiving too much blame for the current housing crisis. “There’s a lot of concern among these members that it’s not very well understood on Capital Hill,” he said. “The basic business model itself our members feel is still a very sound one and it’s producing very good mortgages today and they want to make sure that point of view is understood and accepted by Congress as it starts to work on things.” Write to Austin Kilgore.