By any measure, that's a lot. David Carson, CEO of People's Bank in Connecticut and chairman of America's Community Bankers, told a Congressional committee recently that documents for a conventional mortgage loan, measured end to end, reach more than 109 feet. For a Federal Housing Administration loan, it's more than 129 feet. Carson's plea: streamline requirements and save lenders from "paperwork purgatory."

But it's highly unlikely that the paperwork hold will be broken soon, even as the mortgage business becomes ever more electronic. It's technically possible now to handle all the necessary forms electronically, "but look at all the disclosures that are needed," says Paul H. Schieber, a partner with the law firm of Blank, Rome, Comiskey and McCauley in Philadelphia. "Historically, the law catches up with technology, not vice versa. There will always be paper, and the disclosure issue will slow things down."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.