I was hanging out in my LinkedIn Group the other day, watching the posts come in from the various industry players when one caught my eye. What will be the top 10 issues facing the mortgage industry in 2010? The question was posed by David Coleman, managing director at The Summit Point Group, and a former vice president at Fannie Mae. A smart question from a sharp guy. As it turned out, I'd been thinking about what I was going to do with this new column and so I had an answer ready. Here is my top-10 list of key challenges the industry will face this year: 1. Impact of legislation gone wild (dealing with unintended consequences) 2. Compliance (with everyone's rules) 3. Mortgage Fraud 4. Plight of the broker (loss of the front line originator) 5. Getting valuation right (HVCC and other games) 6. Learning to originate to the GFE (instead of just making it work out at the end) 7. Technology (harnessing the cloud without getting gassed) 8. Modifying the nation's debt 9. Getting the paper out of the process (really, it's time) 10. Jump Starting the Secondary Market (luring back the MBS investor) Actually, I think there's an eleventh issue that's just about as important -- and that's loan product innovation. If we don't find a way to move beyond the plain vanilla loan program, we'll never see real profitability return to the industry. Now, taken individually any of these issues could be effectively handled by the right group of motivated industry personnel, possibly in the form of a coalition or working group. If the industry can come together and bring MISMO to life, any of these problems can be handled. The real problem is that the industry has to deal with these issues in the face of a general population that hates us, has lost any faith and trust they may have had in our institutions and who has elected a Congress that is already behind on its promises and looking for a way to lock in future votes. That complicates things. Most journalists, particularly your mainstream press reporters, will try to nail down the big stories relating to these issues, painting a good picture of the trends that point to the end games. In short, they want to make you think they know how it's all going to work out. Maybe they do. I doubt it. That's not what I want to do with this column. No, there are a lot of little stories that are going to need to be told next year that, when taken together, will highlight those trends. I prefer to take them separately, to find out who these people are who think they can take on a government that's growing out of control in service to a population that is clueless about the real work of home finance at a time when only the smartest moves will guarantee access to the liquidity it takes to stay in business. These are the players who will make this business one worth being in this year. I'm digging in. I'll let you know what I find out.