MBA To Push for Boost to Conforming Loan Limit

With the economy languishing and mortgage lending withering, the Mortgage Bankers Association is readying for a lobbying push to increase the conforming loan limit across to board to $625,000. Garry Cipponeri, senior vice president of Chase Home Finance LLC and head of the MBA’s capital markets committee, made remarks about the pending proposal in a private interview with Bloomberg News Monday afternoon. “It will be stimulative,” he told the news agency. “This market needs liquidity.” Congress boosted both the conforming and FHA loan limits to $729,500 earlier this year as part of an economic stimulus package, but that boost only applies to certain defined “high-cost” housing markets. The original proposal made the loan limit boost temporary, while later Congressional action made the loan limit boost permanent in “high-cost” markets once the temporary limits expire at the end of this year. While initially lauded by bankers and realtors soon after its passage, both groups have become increasingly concerned at the lack of lending activity outside of conforming limits in areas that are not deemed “high-cost.” The dearth of private-party lending now has both the National Association of Realtors, and, apparently, the MBA pushing to increase the lending net for the GSEs and FHA. “If it isn’t an agency loan, it isn’t going to get funded in this market,” said one broker that spoke with HW on condition of anonymity. Likewise, the National Association of Home Builders has begun lobbying for an increase to the $7,000 tax credit passed by Congress earlier this year that the group had hoped would boost demand for new homes. That demand has failed to materialize, with builder confidence setting a new record low last month, and as a result the NAHB — led by Lennar Corp. CEO Stuart Miller, according to a Wall Street Journal briefing — is lobbying Congressional leaders for a jump in the tax credit to as much as $20,000 in an effort to “stimulate demand.”

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