Washington, D.C., December 22, 2003: Over 60 business leaders from a cross-section of the nation's real estate housing and finance industry urged President Bush on December 22 not to issue a final Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) reform regulation at this time.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a final RESPA rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last week that is expected to dramatically overhaul the nation's home buying and financing marketplace. While most industry and consumer organizations have urged the Administration to either delay or re-propose the rule, the December 22 letter is the first time business leaders from the real estate, mortgage, title and other settlement services industries have united to directly express their concerns over the RESPA rule to the President.

The 60-plus business executives, who all are members of the Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc. (RESPRO®), pointed out in their letter to the President that the housing sector is too important to the national economy to face a massive overhaul without full consideration of the impact of a rule of this scale.

They noted that the nation's 2002 annual homeownership rate was 67.9 percent, up 0.1 percent from the previous record posted in 2001, that Americans are enjoying three trillion dollars of greater housing wealth today than they did in 2000, and that Americans have saved hundreds of dollars a month on their home payments due to the lowest mortgage rates in 45 years.

"This successful American housing finance system is a complex structure that requires the contribution and cooperation of numerous industry participants, including mortgage lenders/brokers, real estate brokers, title and other settlement service companies, and vendor management companies," the business executives said in their letter. "HUD's RESPA initiative, however, has the potential to significantly upset the competitive dynamics and the cooperation of these industry participants."

The letter said that if HUD does plan to move forward with this rulemaking proceeding, that it should seek additional public comments on the alternatives to RESPA reform that have been recommended since HUD's 2002 proposed RESPA reform regulation.

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