Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd like to express my appreciation to you and to Ranking Member Sarbanes for agreeing to hold this hearing on the impact of the proposed RESPA rule on small businesses and consumers. While this proposed rule seeks to make it easier for consumers to compare prices and get the best loan possible, some believe that the proposed rule could harm smaller businesses in the mortgage industry.
Increasing homeownership, especially for lower income and minority families, is one of my top priorities. Families who own their own homes are more involved in their communities; they build wealth; their children do better in school; and they are all better equipped to climb the economic ladder of success. Unfortunately, the current costs and complexities of the mortgage settlement process have created a barrier to homeownership for many Americans. Efforts to create greater opportunities for homeownership should include an initiative to simplify and lower the costs of the mortgage settlement process.
In recent weeks my office has heard from a number of smaller North Carolina businesses in the mortgage industry who are very concerned about how this proposed rule may affect consumers and the industry. They believe that in their effort to give consumers more options, greater transparency and lower costs, HUD may actually be accomplishing the exact opposite. Unfortunately, the mortgage settlement process is very complex, making it difficult to fully grasp the potential impact of this initiative.
I want to thank Secretary Martinez for joining us here on March 20th to discuss these issues. One point he was very clear on was his willingness to work with all parties concerned on this proposed rule. In addition, he was clear that all views would be taken into consideration before a final rule is contemplated.
I hope this hearing allows all of us to gain a better understanding of how this new RESPA proposal will affect our housing and mortgage markets as we work together to ensure that more Americans can realize the dream of homeownership.