WASHINGTON—Both credit union trade groups have sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee as it held a hearing on housing finance reform.
In its letter, NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler sent a letter noting the importance of a legislative solution prior to any administrative action.
"Congressional action is the only way to ensure key elements from NAFCU’s Housing Finance Reform Principles, such as guaranteed access for community financial institutions, fair pricing based on quality and not quantity of loans sold, and a level playing field allowing institutions of all sizes to compete, are included in reforms," said Thaler. "Furthermore, any major changes should come gradually, so as not to disrupt the market
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Department of Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Ben Carson, and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria will testify at the hearing.
Last week, the White House finalized plans from the Treasury Department to reform the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, proposing to release them from federal control.
Separately, in its letter CUNA sought to outline features the association believes must be present to ensure a sustainable secondary market.
“CUNA and our credit union members are committed to working with both Congress and the Administration to refine and build upon those proposals to ensure that they accomplish a strong and sustainable secondary mortgage market for the future,” CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote.
CUNAsaid it believes as Congress and the Administration work to reform the current housing finance system, the following priorities must be prioritized:
* Equal access to lenders of all sizes on an equitable basis
* Affordability that incudes recognition of the fact that smaller lenders, such as credit unions, often meet mortgage needs that banks are unwilling or unable to address in rural and working-class communities that require greater flexibility in underwriting requirements and weigh against mandatory minimum down payments
* A reasonable and orderly transition to a new housing finance system. Accordingly, efforts to transfer guarantee oversight authority to entities, such as Ginnie Mae, must honestly assess and plan for potential frustrations if not acknowledged, addressed, and corrected well in advance of any transition
* Strong oversight and supervision to ensure the safety and soundness of secondary market entities
* Durability, by including an explicit federally insured or guaranteed component to ensure that, even in troubled economic times, the secondary mortgage market continues to exist
* Preserving what works, such as cost-effective and member-oriented credit union mortgage servicing options, emphasizing consumer education and home-purchase counseling, and applying reasonable conforming loan limits that adequately consider local real estate expenses in higher cost areas.
“Each of these features—pricing and term parity, an obligation to serve all lenders, and the simplicity of a cash commitment window—are crucial components of any secondary market housing finance reform proposal that honestly seeks to ensure community lenders can compete and offer consumers an alternative to big banks and huge mortgage finance companies,” Nussle added. “Given the increasing market share that credit unions have gained in the primary mortgage market over the years, it is clear that our member owners want to be able to count on their community lender when it comes to buying a home.”
CUNA also noted the future secondary mortgage market must built upon and strengthen the existing partnerships between credit unions, guarantors, and Federal Home Loan Banks in "ensuring access to responsible and affordable mortgage credit for millions of credit union members.”