Prepared Remarks of MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB, at the CREF21: Lending, Investing, Servicing and Technology Convention & Expo

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Rob Van Raaphorst
rvanraaphorst@mba.org
(202) 557-2799

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 3, 2021) - Bob Broeksmit, CMB, MBA President and CEO, delivered the following remarks here today at MBA's CREF 21: Lending, Investing, Servicing and Technology Convention and Expo .

Hello. On behalf of the team at the Mortgage Bankers Association, thank you for tuning in to CREF21. This year's format is a bit different than normal. But one thing is the same. The MBA built this convention to help your companies thrive.  

Your success is our top priority, especially after the past year. When we met 12 months ago, the economy was booming. The commercial and multifamily markets were flying high. Then it all came to a screeching halt.  

One year later, our industry has faced unprecedented challenges. The situation has been worse than after the crash of 2008, in many respects. None of us have ever seen anything like it.  

I want to acknowledge the difficulties you've dealt with and are dealing with still. You've had to make tough choices. You've had to put plans on hold. You've had to adapt to dynamic events at a moment's notice. The entire MBA team knows that nothing has been easy for you this year... and that's why we have worked harder than ever to serve you.  

The Mortgage Bankers Association is made for tough times, and the past year proves it. In fact, I think it's fair to say that MBA has never accomplished so much for our members in such a short span - for all capital sources and all types of lending. From the moment the pandemic struck, we swung into action. And we haven't slowed down since.  

There's no clearer sign of the MBA difference in 2020 than the victories we achieved at the start and end of the year. We book-ended it with two big wins, benefitting both our multifamily and commercial members.  

The first big win came last March.  

It was the early days of the pandemic. The stock market was in freefall. The economy was shutting down, and the market for mortgage-backed securities was collapsing. It was clear the Federal Reserve needed to act. But after days of waiting, nothing happened.  

At 11:30 on a Saturday night, I called a meeting of the MBA leadership team. We put together a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Fed Chairman Powell. It was so late when I sent the letter, I called it the "midnight missive." But it got the reaction you needed.  

Just over 24 hours later, on Monday morning, the Federal Reserve announced the unlimited purchase of mortgage-backed securities and multifamily mortgages. Wins don't get much bigger than that. And to top it off, it was Mike Flood's second week on the job.  

Now let's turn to the end of the year.  

Just over a month ago, Congress passed another round of pandemic relief. We spent the preceding months meeting with senior administration officials and congressional leaders. We put in countless hours of around-the-clock advocacy work. While the legislation was long in the making, we helped make the final version what it was.  

The final bill was a major boon to multifamily.  

It contained more than $25 billion in rental assistance. It also extended additional unemployment benefits of $300 a week and provided a $600 direct payment to the families who need it. These wins will keep millions of families current on rent payments and put your businesses on firmer footing.  

The bill was just as good for commercial finance.  

It contained a much-needed expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program. The small businesses that are your clients now have an extra $166 billion in relief. Entertainment venues that have shut down received another $15 billion. In both cases, this money can help stabilize income for your borrowers. For our CMBS lenders, we secured the continuation of the Term Asset Backed Lending Facility, ensuring continued stability for our industry. And for all commercial real estate lenders, we secured cost savings through modifications to beneficial ownership reporting requirements.  

But the biggest win of all was the continuation of Troubled Debt Restructuring relief. Thanks to our efforts, TDR is in effect through the rest of the year. And the bill expanded relief to all financial institutions, including life insurance companies. This major victory is a direct result of MBA's advocacy on your behalf.  

The year ended on a high note. And between the bookends of March and December, the MBA filled the pages with victories. No matter the issue, and no matter the timing, the MBA had a seat at the table. We used our voice to tell your story and your needs - and we got results.  

Consider what we accomplished for commercial members.  

Last spring, when Congress passed the CARES Act, we secured temporary relief for troubled debt restructuring. We then secured an extension in December's stimulus bill.  

Last May, we urged the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to provide new guidance on the treatment of loan modifications. Thanks to our request, insurers are now able to make prudent loan modifications for borrowers.  
And throughout the year, we've racked up one win after another. We've provided risk-based capital relief and force-placed flood insurance relief. We helped to secure modifications to the Volcker rule to allow for normal-course-of-business CMBS trades to be made safely and efficiently. We ensured that TDR relief also applied to non-banks and REITs. And for life insurance companies, we proposed more equitable capital treatment for equity investments. The NAIC is considering our request and will likely make a decision this year. We're confident the result will be positive for all parties involved.  

We're proud of our record on commercial issues over the past year.  We're just as proud of the difference we made for multifamily.  

It's hard to overstate how positive the year-end stimulus bill was for our industry and country. The extra rental assistance and unemployment insurance will make a big impact this year. But that's far from our only accomplishment for multifamily.  

The pandemic has made clear that vulnerable Americans needed more help. We took up their cause by calling for a funding boost for Section 8 housing and community development block grants. It worked. Congress passed $42 billion in additional funding for HUD programs.  

We made progress on a host of other issues, too.

We helped secure appraisal relief and addressed the process for setting wage rates for FHA-assisted multifamily projects for the first time in 40 years. We got our members to the table with FHFA on multifamily lending caps and secured a modification to the HMDA reporting final rule so it applies only to companies that lend on 100 or more multifamily properties.  We helped enhance the MAP underwriting guide to make it more efficient for FHA lenders, and secured increased funding for FHA's information technology systems.  And thanks to MBA's relentless advocacy, Ginnie Mae activated an FHA servicer liquidity facility. Time and again, MBA helped make it happen, because that is what you asked us to do.  

The last victories I'll mention didn't happen in our nation's capital. They took place in the states. In fact, despite the challenges facing our industry, the MBA expanded our activity at the state level in 2020 to cover the commercial industry. You are getting more bang for your buck.  

In New York, the MBA led the way to stop legislation that would have taxed mezzanine debt. In Oregon, we created a template to allow servicers to comply with the new eviction moratorium. And in California, we worked with the California MBA and others to defeat two dangerous ballot proposals. Thanks to our leadership, and your support, California did not expand rent control and it did not upend a 40-year-old Constitutional requirement to base residential and commercial property taxes on purchase price. These policies are good for you and for the people of the Golden State.  

On every topic I have named, the MBA played a leading role. But we did not act alone. I have made it a priority to deepen our partnership with other trade associations, because when we band together, we make a bigger difference for you. Over the past year, we worked hand-in-glove with the ACLI, NMHC, ABA, CREFC, RER, NAREIT, and more. Our continued partnership will reap additional rewards.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that these partnerships result from the hard work of Bruce Oliver, Sharon Walker, and Grant Carlson, among others.  

But right now, what's more important than what we've done over the past year is what we will do in the year ahead.  

The end of the pandemic is now within sight, though not yet within reach. The days ahead will be full of many challenges, from solving the affordable housing crisis to how we recover from the pandemic. Rest assured, the MBA is working hard on every front.  

As we look to the future, I encourage you to reach out to me, Mike Flood, and the MBA team as often as you can. Amidst the difficulties of the past year, we heard from many of you more than ever before. It was one of the brightest parts of a tough 12 months. It helped us focus on your biggest priorities.     

I hope you continue to talk to us, early and often. Tell us what's on your mind. It'll be front of mind for us, too. Tell us what barriers you face. We'll do everything possible to break them down. The more we hear from you, the better we fight for you. The past year proves it. The MBA is excited to build on our accomplishments in the year ahead.  

I also hope you'll lend support to our lobbying and political work.  

The Mortgage Action Alliance is the largest grassroots lobbying group in the industry. Its membership tripled last year alone, and member engagement soared by 2,000%. No wonder: MAA makes the difference when it matters most.    

I'm glad to announce that last year, MBA's CREF members set records for both participation in and contributions to MORPAC, which now stands as the 9th largest trade association PAC and is a critical component of MBA's effectiveness in Washington.   

Your continued support is essential to our continued success, on every front. And your continued leadership is essential for the future of the economy and the country. Know that the Mortgage Bankers Association is fighting tirelessly for you in Washington, D.C. and beyond. We achieved great things on your behalf over the past year. We will accomplish even more in the year ahead, as your ally and your advocate.  

That's what we do. That's who we are. And that's what we will always be, because nothing is more important to the MBA than you.  

Thank you. Enjoy the convention.