Radian Group Inc. has released highlights from a recent panel discussion among housing experts from corporate, government, non-profit, association and academic sectors. The expert panel unanimously agreed to the importance of private capital in the housing industry and a need to lessen the current burden placed on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), however the extent to which was subject to rigorous debate before an audience of predominantly Capitol Hill staffers. Held in Washington, D.C., the panel discussion served to help paint a complete picture of the current housing finance market and take a more in-depth look at some of the proposed solutions and roles of the public and private sectors.
“As a member of the industry, we believe there’s an obligation for us to bring together experts in our field and help make sure our country’s decision-makers hear every viewpoint, analysis and proposed solution available. Only by painting as complete a picture as possible, can the right solution for all Americans be reached,” said moderator Teresa Bryce Bazemore, president of Radian, sponsor of the event.
Joining Bazemore was John Courson, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA); Mark Fleming, chief economist, CoreLogic; Patricia Hasson, president and executive director of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley (CCCSDV), Faith Schwartz, executive director of the HOPE NOW Alliance; and Peter Wallison, Arthur F. Burns fellow in financial policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Radian CEO S.A. Ibrahim welcomed the group and said, “… without candid discussion about the realities we’re experiencing, we cannot move our country forward and find a way to help our neighbors enjoy the dream of homeownership.”
Ibrahim then introduced FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. Commissioner Stevens shared his thoughts on the importance of establishing a solid foundation of support for the next generation of homeowners, the echo-boom generation, which outnumbers baby boomers.
“There’s been a joint, cooperative effort with public and private interests working together to try to keep the housing market afloat.” said FHA Commissioner Stevens. “The FHA has played an important role, but there comes a time when private capital needs to re-engage. Today, we are looking toward a transition to more normalized market share levels for FHA.”
Despite panelist agreement that private capital should play a significant role in any housing finance reform legislation, the desirability and extent of a government guarantee were subject to debate. Panelists Wallison and Courson both shared their insights regarding two separate recommendations. Wallison spoke of the dangers inherent in a government guarantee, noting that it places an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer. Courson countered that a system structurally similar to the FDIC could provide a necessary government sponsored guarantee with minimal risk.
Panelists Schwartz and Hasson both cited the importance of previously allocated funds reaching those in-need at an increased pace. Schwartz and Hasson, with unanimous panel agreement, both stressed that among the most important issues on-the-ground level focused on the need for homeowners who find themselves falling behind on mortgage payments, to immediately contact their loan servicers and credit counseling services.
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