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Lenders Plead for Help on Warehouse Lending

MBA CEO testifies before House committee

February 3, 2009

By staff

Mortgage bankers testified before Congress that U.S. warehouse lending capacity has declined by 90 percent over the past year -- a change that threatens the mortgage sector.

John A. Courson, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association, told lawmakers today that many of the trade group's independent members have been hamstrung from the lack of available warehouse lines-of-credit from commercial banks, according to a transcript of his prepared testimony.

The executive was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee at the hearing, "Promoting Bank Liquidity and Lending Through Deposit Insurance, Hope for Homeowners, and other Enhancements."

Courson said warehouse lending capacity has gone from $200 billion in 2007 to around $23 billion last year.

He explained that warehouse lenders are either restricting existing warehouse lines, terminating the lines or going out of business.

"For the originator that depends solely on warehouse lines-of-credit, this reduction could reduce liquidity, extinguish their lending business, and adversely impact the consumers in their market, stifling the real estate recovery before it has a chance to get off the ground," Courson stated.

He called on legislators and the Obama administration to take steps to maintain existing warehouse lines and create new lines by providing short-term federal guarantees for warehouse lines secured by conforming and government mortgages. He also suggested that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be temporarily allowed to provide short-term lending programs or invest in syndicated warehouse lines.

Courson noted other issues currently plaguing mortgage bankers include an unprecedented volume of repurchase requests from Fannie and Freddie and servicing a record number of delinquent loans, loan modifications and foreclosures.

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