Federal Housing Administration Commissioner David Stevens called on the nation's largest trade group of real estate agents to pressure Capitol Hill in support of legislation to reform the government's housing insurance agency.

"The FHA is at risk," Stevens told the National Association of Realtors' midyear legislative conference in Washington Tuesday.

Stevens, who joined the FHA after a stint at Long & Foster Realtors, one of the largest independent real estate companies in the nation, said the government cannot continue to prop up the housing market "unless we do something to shore up" the FHA's capital reserves.

The bill would let the FHA's product pricing more closely mirror that of private-sector mortgage insurers, and it would hold lenders accountable for the loans they originate. The legislation has been cleared by the House Financial Services Committee but has not yet been scheduled for floor action.

Stevens called it a "critical bill." If it is not passed, he said, the FHA cannot continue to be the cornerstone to the housing market it has been for the past 30 years.

If the legislative changes Stevens wants are enacted, the value to the FHA insurance fund would be around $330 million a month.

Stevens said the fixes would help the agency replenish its capital reserves even faster than if this authority was provided through the annual congressional approval process.

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