Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray called attention to the mortgage industry, particularly lenders, in a speech on Wednesday, where he highlighted some of the progress and pitfalls that the housing market faces.
An Urban Institute report recently confirmed Cordray's remarks by finding that between 2009 and 2014, 5.2 million borrowers with less-than-pristine credit were unable to get a mortgage loan due to tight lending.
The data showed that between 2009 and 2013, 4 million loans could have been originated if credit standards were like 2001's levels. On top of this total, an additional 1.2 million borrowers were unable to get a mortgage loan.
"A tight credit box means that fewer families will become homeowners at an opportune point in the housing market cycle, depriving them of a critical wealth-building opportunity," Urban Institute said. "It slows the housing market recovery by limiting the pool of potential borrowers. Ultimately, excessively tight credit hinders the economy, as it slows all the associated economic activity that comes with home buying, such as furniture purchases, landscaping, and renovations."
In his speech, Cordray stated that the millennial generation is beginning to welcome homeownership despite the stereotype surrounding this generation, but as they are facing with the issue of tightening credit.
"Credit is still too tight, at least in my view, but we can now look in the rear-view mirror and see that some of the undue fears people had about legal liability under the QM rule, or market paralysis due to streamlining the mortgage disclosure forms, can be put in healthier perspective," Cordray explained. "There is ample opportunity in the mortgage market as it continues to heal, and you should be doing what you do best: serving your customers through great deals and great customer service. Homeownership still remains the most effective engine of wealth accumulation for the American middle class, and you are the ones who are making that happen and rebuilding a key marketplace that failed this country so brutally less than a decade ago."
Despite the bleak credit picture, mortgage lending practices have improved since the financial crisis, Cordray said in his speech.
"The market crash itself led to many changes, with bad actors and bad practices no longer feasible in a marketplace that had all-too-belatedly exposed the risks inherent in irresponsible and often predatory lending. Indeed, if anything, the market meltdown produced an overreaction, marked by very tight credit and historically low levels of consumer demand and available supply," he said. "For those of us engaged in the important work of protecting consumers, these developments posed a very tricky task in implementing reforms. We were well aware of the concerns many had raised that the cost of protecting consumers would constrict the availability of credit and even drive many financial service providers out of business altogether."