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Top 5 Takeaways from 2015 Five Star Government Forum, Washington, D.C.

The Newseum in Washington, D.C., provided the backdrop for the Sixth Annual Five Star Government Forum (FSGF) on Wednesday, as government officials and mortgage industry professionals came together to discuss the future of America's housing industry.

Features of the 2015 Five Star Government Forum included keynote addresses from U.S. Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Fannie Mae SVP and Chief Economist Doug Duncan, and Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer as well as Five Star President and CEO Ed Delgado's one-on-one interview with Acting FHA Commissioner Biniam Gebre.

FSGF 15 also included panel discussions on the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the complexity of compliance in the mortgage industry, an update on government agency portfolios, and what the results of the recent midterm elections could mean for housing reform.

"This event was powerful and necessary to influence change and policy across the mortgage industry," Delgado said. "It's an opportunity for the industry's stakeholders to come together and discuss the most pressing issues today in housing and the path going forward."

Five key takeaways from the 2015 Five Star Government Forum:

  • According to Gebre, the No. 1 issue facing the FHA is getting enough funding from Congress. During the interview, the Commissioner also stated that affordability and lack of access to financing are holding back the housing market. On FHA's controversial reduction of the mortgage insurance premium, the Commissioner said it wasn't done specifically to stimulate home buying – two million homeowners who refinance will stand to benefit.
  • Neugebauer declared in his keynote address that "Too big to fail has made it too small to succeed." Several of the nation's largest financial institutions required government bailouts during the financial crisis to stay afloat, incurring great losses to American taxpayers and in turn greatly increasing the cost of doing business for everyone else. The Congressman has long fought on behalf of taxpayers and ending government bailouts.
  • "Demand weakness trumps credit tightness," according to Duncan. While many analysts have blamed tight lending standards for holding back homeownership, Duncan asserted during his keynote address at lunch that a lack of demand has done more to hold back housing recovery than a tight credit box.
  • Kiefer said through Twitter that a consistent theme for the government forum was "housing markets should improve but households need real income growth." Along those same lines, Duncan stated during his keynote address that household income and unemployment rates are higher among younger adults, or millennials, than in previous generations, and that potential homeowners are exhibiting very conservative behavior. He said, however, he believes millennials will buy homes as soon as their income and employment issues are resolved.
  • "The key to cracking the compliance code is understanding the reason behind the regulation," according to Michael Waldron, Chief Compliance Officer with Bayview Loan Servicing, while moderating the "Cra cking the Compliance Code" panel. Later during the "Inside the Beltway" panel moderated by The Collingwood Group Chairman Brian Montgomery, Chrysalis Holdings Chairman and former Ginnie Mae President Joe Murin posed the question, "How much regulation can the industry withstand? We need sensible regulation."

Editor's note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of The MReport and TheMReport.com.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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