Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery wants to make the Federal Housing Administration's single-family program an innovative player in the mortgage market and a first stop for homebuyers, not a last resort."It is our mission to bring FHA back, to reinvigorate this agency and restore it to its intended place within the marketplace," Mr. Montgomery told an FHA conference sponsored by the National Real Estate Development Center. The commissioner highlighted recent changes to FHA appraisal practices to bring them more in line with the conventional market and move to electronic loan endorsements. "You told us to make these changes, and we are," the commissioner told the FHA lenders. "You are trusted partners in the business, and we rely on you." The new FHA management team is examining the agency's processes and requirements, and the commissioner said his goal is to make originating an FHA loan no different from originating a conventional or subprime loan. Mr. Montgomery also stressed that the FHA needs to offer new loan products, which will likely require legislative changes. "FHA needs a broader range of products to meet the needs of the American public," the commissioner said. Mr. Montgomery was a White House staffer before being sworn in as the new FHA commissioner three months ago.

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