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HUD to leak RESPA reform plans

June 25, 2005

Secretary will unveil details next week

Inman News

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will again take on reform of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, known as RESPA, and will unveil details of a timetable for its upcoming actions next week.

The Department will hold a conference call in Washington, D.C., on Monday at 2 p.m. EDT, officials said today.

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson will outline the agency's "roadmap" for reforming the nation's home-buying process.

HUD's previous attempts to make changes to RESPA to simplify the home-buying process for consumers came to a halt in March 2004 when Jackson withdrew the agency's proposal from the White House Office of Management and Budget. At that time, Jackson said HUD would re-examine the rule, revise it if necessary and re-propose it.

This time, HUD will seek input from members of Congress before releasing proposals for public comment.

"Once we get (Congress') input, we will go back to the industry, and let the industry group make their comments…I can assure you that once that is done, we will not hold (the rule) in abatement as we did last time," Jackson said during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in March.

At the March 2 hearing, Jackson told the Financial Services Committee HUD had been analyzing the rule.

"We have been doing some analysis over the last 90 days," Jackson said.

"My basic belief is, if we can get a consensus of 75 (percent) to 80 percent of the people in the industry and your consensus," it will be possible to get a rule "that will pass and address the needs of making sure that the closing cost is resolved very early," Jackson told the committee.

The original changes, proposed about three years ago, netted an unprecedented 45,000 comments during the public comment portion in 2002. Many of those came from within the real estate industry in opposition to the changes.

The original proposal would have changed the disclosure requirements for mortgage broker fees, including the controversial yield spread premiums, simplify the good faith estimate form and permit the sale of guaranteed-price bundled packages of mortgages and mortgage-related services. The changes aimed to make it easier for home buyers to understand the closing process.

Copyright 2005 Inman News

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