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While Candidates Avoid Housing, Five Star Speakers Engage It

In the old days ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the days before the financial crisis, anyway ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô policymakers held firm on the housing issue. Americans wanted homes. Housing supported jobs. Home mortgage interest deductions, federal guarantees for fixed-rate mortgages, implicit support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You name it, Uncle Sam had its back.

Not so anymore. Four years after the financial crisis, with the federal government leery of any serious conversations about housing policy, politicians from both parties by and large continue to sidestep the issue. In the wake of the Democratic and Republican conventions, ""_The Wall Street Journal_"":http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2012/09/06/why-the-candidates-arent-talking-about-housing/ finds that President ""Barack Obama"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama and his Republican challenger, former Gov. ""Mitt Romney"":http://www.mittromney.com/ (R-Massachusetts), still avoid housing policy like the ""Ebola virus in East Africa"":http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57483730-10391704/ebola-virus-fears-strike-ugandas-capital-city/.

Taking the stage on Thursday, speakers at the ninth annual ""Five Star Conference"":http://www.thefivestar.com/fsc-2012/, currently underway at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, tackled the issue most politicians evade: When and where should government intervene in the housing market?


Not often, according to speakers like Jack Konyk, executive director of government affairs with ""Weiner Brodsky Sidman Kider"":http://www.wbsk.com/home.php, and Edward Kramer, EVP of regulatory affairs with ""Wolters Kluwer Financial Services"":http://www.wolterskluwerfs.com/home.aspx.


""There is absolutely a role for government intervention in any free market,"" the former said to applause, opposite Kramer, on Thursday.

Undertaking a separate role, Kramer played devil's advocate with regulation and reform in the housing market. ""How many times do you let the industry use its good sense?"" he asked. ""And it fails time after time, the government [then] says, ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôYou're not going to do that.'""

The Dodd-Frank Act took center-stage during the debate, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau along with it. Both the law and agency recently celebrated their two-year and one-year anniversaries, respectively.

With Kramer referencing recent remarks by CFPB deputy director Raj Date about service to one's country, Konyk, a retired veteran, countered by saying that ""the best thing you can do to serve this country is to work in [the mortgage] industry and help someone achieve homeownership,"" rousing applause.

Not that either offers up new fodder for debate. Landmark legislation like Dodd-Frank continues to rile even hardened politicos, with former FDIC chairman Bill Isaac calling it ""a terrible law"" in a recent interview. ""It didn't address any of the things that led to the crisis,"" he told us.

During the debate, Stephen Faulkner, CEO of ""OpExNow"":http://opexnow.com/, said that he felt ""there was clearly deception.

""There should have been a lo of people who went to jail"" after the crisis, he told audience members. ""We have to look at how servicers are compensated going forward, and I believe that regulation is needed ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô massive regulation.""

Critics like Kramer nonetheless offered flaws he found in the law.

""This Dodd-Frank is the compliance professionals' job protection act,"" Kramer said, reprising his role. ""It's great for us, because we're helping you comply with that. Increasing your cost. Decreasing your ability to be efficient and stay in business.""

[Editor's note: The Five Star Conference is organized by the Five Star Institute, the parent company of _DS News_ and _MReport_.]

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.

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