The leadership of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America prevented a major rebellion among its 2,700-member companies when it withdrew its support for HUD Secretary Mel Martinez's plan to allow dual packaging as part of his efforts to reform the loan-closing process, MortgageWire has learned.As it was, the annual Town Hall session that unofficially opened the MBA's annual convention in San Diego Oct. 19 was a short, sparsely attended briefing that was far tamer than usual. But it "could have been a bloodbath had we not acted when we did," a top MBA official confided to MW on Monday. Meanwhile, at least one observer believes Secretary Martinez must shoulder at least part of the blame for losing what little support he had for rewriting the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Compliance attorney Robert Lotstein said indecision by the Department of Housing and Urban Development about how to proceed with the final rule "allowed undercurrents" to surface. "There's Eastern time, Pacific time, and HUD time," said the managing partner of Lotstein Buckman LLP. "Their clock runs a lot differently than ours." Mr. Lotstein, the former legal counsel to the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said HUD's continual delays have hurt the reform effort "badly," and "now all the good work that has been done in an attempt to simplify the process and all the benefits that would have accrued to consumers are at risk." The MBA can be found online at http://www.mbaa.org.

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