Part of our job at Mortgage Marketplace to give our readers an idea of what will happen in the coming months. In that spirit, we have adopted the theme 9&4 in 1994 - nine people, four issues that will have an impact on the mortgage marketplace in 1994.
Mortgage bankers will probably see one of their worst nightmares come to reality in 1994, but not at the hands of Congress - it'll be the doings of HUD and the Justice Department.
Legislation aimed at pulling mortgage bankers into the purview of the Community Reinvestment Act probably won't pass in its present form - legislation from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., just doesn't seem to have the support it needs. But while that hurdle is likely to be jumped, lenders will probably see another, more familiar barrier in its place - HUD rules that will become de facto lending bias laws.
The Government-sponsored Enterprises Act may provide vehicles for those attempts. Don't be surprised to see HUD write CRA-like regulations that would require mortgage bankers to comply with many CRA elements in order to sell loans to Fannie and Freddie.
HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and his team-particularly Assistant Secretary for Fair Lending Roberta Achtenberg - would probably support such a measure, some mortgage industry experts say, as would House Banking committee Chairman Henzy Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass. Chris Lewis, of the Consumer Federation of America, said that in a recent conversation with Attorney General Janet Reno, his impression was that mortgage bankers "are clearly on Justice's hit list and are exploring this new use of the Fair Housing Act that concentrates on unequal treatment."
When Reno announced Dec. 13 that the Justice Department had slapped Hartford, Conn.-based Shawmut National Corp. with a $960,000 settlement to compensate minorities unfairly denied loans by its mortgage subsidiary, it sent a clear signal that the Clinton administration plans to pursue mortgage discrimination cases and put them on high-profile display.