Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may be encroaching on lenders' turf, but the final policy statement was milder than expected.
The MBA said lenders should have access to the criteria used in the government-sponsored enterprises' underwriting technology and to data on loan performance. The trade group's statement also warned against Fannie's and Freddie's use of technology to bypass lenders and to contact consumers, brokers, or others directly.
The document is another example of lenders' fear that the GSEs' could expand beyond their mission and gain an advantage over others in the mortgage business thanks to the implied government guarantee - which makes it cheaper for the GSEs to fund themselves.
Some of the potential pathways the GSEs might go down, we might not be in favor of, said Donald K. Lange, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association and president and chief executive officer of Pacific Financial Services Inc. of Torrance, Calif.
This is the first time that the little guys and medium-sized guys united in their opposition, said Thomas Jacob, chairman and chief executive officer of Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. in Edison, N.J.
The MBA's policy statement is substantially similar to those made by America's Community Bankers and FMWatch, Jacob explained.
The document acknowledged that Fannie and Freddie Mac play a vital role'' in the secondary market, but it said there should be a clear separation between the roles of mortgage lenders and the GSEs. Without effective independent oversight, the public purpose goals of the GSEs and their private sector goals of maximizing return to their shareholders could conflict, the statement said.
Fannie and Freddie should be focused exclusively on maintaining liquidity and stability in the secondary mortgage market and on meeting their affordable-housing goals, the trade group said.
Though the new policy statement raises concerns similar to those that prompted the formation of FMWatch, a coalition devoted to keeping Fannie and Freddie focused on their secondary-market functions, Mr. Lange said that the MBA still has no plan to join forces with the group. He said the final draft has a much more positive feel and approach than earlier drafts and that it reflects a productive dialogue between the MBA and the GSEs.
But a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac said the MBA's statement points to a narrow interpretation of our charter and demonstrates an effort to basically block the tides of change that we think are benefiting consumers. Freddie Mac believes that its mission, particularly on the technological side, goes beyond merely providing liquidity. They reject the idea that we should even be working to lower the cost of homeownership, she said, adding that the MBA is choosing protectionism to the detriment of consumers.
A spokesman said Fannie Mae was pleased by the statement's reaffirmation of the vital role Fannie Mae plays in the mortgage finance system.
But he insisted that Fannie strikes a very good balance between the interest of our shareholders and the interest of consumers and homebuyers.
Only by being profitable can we do the job that Fannie Mae was chartered to do, he said.