Magazine article American Banker

MBA Plans a Consumer Forum to Help It Lobby

Magazine article American Banker

MBA Plans a Consumer Forum to Help It Lobby

Article excerpt

Frustrated in attempts to sway the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the mortgage industry's chief lobbying force says it will take its case to the people.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is expected to announce today a program to query homeowners and other consumers through polls, surveys, and ultimately the Internet.

The initiative-by a trade group that has steered clear of direct contact with consumers-partly reflects recent struggles over Truth- in-Lending rules and with HUD over the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

Consumers could be asked, "What kind of disclosures would be most meaningful to you?" said MBA president Marc C. Smith. Consumers would probably side with his group in seeking easy-to-understand disclosures, observers said.

The program, which the MBA is calling the National Homebuyer Forum, would have a broad mandate. By communicating with homebuyers about such issues as fees, interest rates, and housing trends, the association expects to be better able to represent its interests to lawmakers. The data could also be used to help members market loan products.

"When we're at our best as mortgage bankers, we are thinking and acting on behalf of consumers," Mr. Smith said. "We would like to be able to articulate meaningful input to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Reserve, and Capitol Hill when called upon to testify.

"We're interested in housing policies that stand the test of time," said Mr. Smith, who is also president of Crestar Mortgage Corp. …

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