ORLANDO - Fannie Mae opened the Mortgage Bankers Association's secondary market conference here with a bang by announcing a landmark agreement to adopt universal data standards that are being formed by an MBA-led industry coalition.
"We have committed to work with the MBA for developing industry standards for electronic commerce," said Jamie Gorelick, vice chairman of Fannie. "We strongly support the MBA in their leadership role."
Fannie agreed to implement the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization's standards "as published" but will retain the right to extend them with its own proprietary data.
The implementation is expected to speed up the development of Web mortgages and save all the players in the mortgage process the cost and time of writing code for their computer systems to accept data and documents from one another.
One of Mismo's main tasks is to create individual standards for each of the transactions needed to get a mortgage.
There have been some concerns recently that Fannie would develop its own standards.
Howard Glaser, the MBA's vice president in charge of government relations, said Monday's agreement addressed industry concerns over the domination of technology standards by Fannie.
"In the past we have seen the GSEs create proprietary technology and then impose that technology on the industry," he said in an interview. "There was great concern about what would happen in the next frontier of technology leading to paperless mortgages."
David Barkley, director of e-commerce relations for Freddie Mac, which is a member of Mismo and played a large role in developing the underwriting standard, said in an interview that it "welcomes Fannie's public support" of the coalition.
"This is a continuation of standards activity and standards work that Freddie has been part of, but because of the widespread usage of e-commerce, it is a very exciting time to set these standards," he said.
Mr. Glaser said the agreement ensures that "the industry will come together to create common language and strategy that will be open to all."
A source familiar with Mismo said they came to the table together with a solution they agreed upon that will fit in well with what Mismo has already done.
During a speech Monday, Ms. Gorelick said lenders "need to know that your systems and our systems will work and work together," and they need to have choice in the systems to assure confidence in their efficacy and fairness.
"I hope we are getting past the point of my having to say that we want to serve you, not compete with you" she said.