Predatory lending, foreclosures, and housing subsidies appear to be the top housing concerns for legislators and the mortgage industry, according to Robert M. Couch, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association.Speaking at the opening session of the Western Secondary Market Conference organized by the California MBA, Mr. Couch said predatory lenders are "an abomination ... but they are a very small minority." Moreover, he said, anti-predatory-lending laws have produced unintended consequences. "The people who need credit the most are denied access to credit," Mr. Couch declared. "New Jersey had to recently change its law to make it more reasonable." Regarding foreclosures, they are "running amok," he said, and thousands of people are losing their homes. At year-end, the foreclosure inventory stood at 1.29%. As for subsidies, Mr. Couch said there is a growing view that homeownership rates have gotten too high because subsidies are too pervasive. "You hear it in a lot of different ways," he said, noting that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan has testified before Congress that Fannie and Freddie are getting too much "implicit" subsidy and should be privatized. Meanwhile, some consumer advocacy groups have said that "we make credit too readily available," he said. The MBA can be found online at http://www.mortgagebankers.org.

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