There are "three troubling themes" that are affecting the mortgage industry, Mortgage Bankers Association Chairman Rob Couch told the Northeast Regional Conference of Mortgage Bankers Associations in Atlantic City Wednesday.The first is predatory lending. Every state that has enacted a predatory lending law has seen a reduction in the availability of subprime credit, he said, adding that what needs to be talked about is where to "strike the balance." To increase homeownership rates, the industry needs to find a way to reach those that have not been reached before, Mr. Couch said. The second issue is the perception of "foreclosures run amok," he said, dismissing as "hooey" complaints that mortgage bankers put people in homes just to fail. With total foreclosures at 1.29%, Mr. Couch sees "the glass at 98.71% full." Even with subprime driving foreclosures to 5.63%, that means 94.37% are not in foreclosure. The third troubling issue, he said, involves complaints of "too much subsidy for homeownership," including recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. "Homeownership is the single best vehicle for the accumulation of wealth," Mr. Couch said, challenging Mr. Greenspan to attend a closing for a first-time homebuyer.

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