It was a momentous election, and I am frankly jubilant at the result. But while our joy is without reservation, our hope that the election will bring true transformation of the disparaties between the have’s and have-not’s is tempered. Too often, we have seen political realities vanquish idealistic visions, and so we are not unduly optimistic that Barack Obama will be able to rescue us from the terrible mess we are in.
The election was long and hard, but the hardest work is clearly ahead. Our economy has been virtually destroyed by the unregulated growth of toxic mortgages and their subsequent demise. We hope that our new administration will act quickly and decisively to improve the environment for borrowers, and thereby strengthen this faltering economy for all of us.
At the recent annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, the following suggestions for change were offered.
*Create mandatory federal standards for loan products secured by a primary residence.
*Standardize loan products, and enact regulations to ensure that most loan are 30-year fixed mortgages, except in special circumstances.
*Re-enact usery laws, with a floating rate tied to some appropriate measure.
*Provide incentives to encourage best pricing and affordability of home mortgages, including underwriting based only on the payment stream of the loan.
*Require that loans be affordable, i.e., 38 percent or less of the home owner’s household income.
*Enact legislation ensuring full assignee liability for all purchasers of home mortgages.
*Amend the tax code to provide less incentive to add mortgage debt to primary homes.
*Clarify the duty owed by servicers to the borrower, and improve RESPA.
*Prohibit foreclosures without first offering a loan modification.
*Prohibit loans with a loan to value ratio greater than 90 percent.
*Amend the bankruptcy code to permit modification of home mortgages, even over the objections of the lender but subject to the oversight of the court.
Quite a wish list, I realize. But without significant and courageous action, our mortgage troubles are only beginning. Let’s hope our new government can do better.