New MBA CEO optimistic on housing recovery
The former commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, David Stevens is beginning his latest role as the President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association on a high note. While speaking at the trade group's national secondary market conference in New York, Stevens said housing is a basic human need, and took the opportunity to inject some optimism about the potential for an economic recovery with states like Florida and California — some of the hardest hit regions during the crisis— now witnessing more housing starts. The future of the secondary mortgage market is contingent on industry players remaining bullish about housing, while also engaging directly with lawmakers and acknowledging past failures to stamp out bad actors, President and CEO David Stevens said Monday. "We should all share collectively in the idea that there are plenty of people to blame for the housing crisis," he said. "Our industry clearly played a role." Stevens said the industry has to "articulate its reason for being," and assist in the creation of a secondary mortgage market that will be driven more by private capital and designed to serve future customers — namely Echo Boomers who are beginning to emerge as the largest potential home buying segment of the American population. Panelists at the conference suggested a new mortgage financing structure cannot take fully root until housing is stabilized. "There is no question that we are in transition," Paul Mullings, senior vice president of single family sourcing at Freddie Mac said. "We are looking at what type of structure and pricing is needed to pull private capital back into the market." "The housing market has to be stabilized," Mullings added. "The role of the government needs to be defined, and there has to be confidence in the ratings agencies." In terms of rebuilding confidence in the secondary market, Ted Tozer, president of Ginnie Mae, said easing the fears of investors is a crucial step. "Investors needs to feel they are being dealt with properly," Tozer said. "They need to know what the cost of capital is going to be." Much of this will not be known until the shape of the secondary market is clearly communicated by regulators and the industry, he said. Michael Berman, chairman of the MBA and CEO of CW Capital, stressed that the group's engagement with regulators has already proven successful when considering Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently proposed a GSE reform plan that includes an option very similar to the MBA's own proposal. Much like the Treasury's plan, Berman said the MBA has long advocated for the creation of a housing sector driven largely by private capital with a limited government role. Kevin Neyland, senior vice president of strategy and business development for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, said maintaining liquidity in the marketplace remains one of the industry's greatest challenges. Write to Kerri Panchuk.