The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 31, 2007

Fact Sheet: New Steps to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure
President Bush Announces Steps To Help American Families Keep Their Homes And Reform The Mortgage Finance System

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Today, President Bush Announced Steps At The Federal Level To Help Homeowners In Need Of Assistance Avoid Foreclosure. These steps will help homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgages and ensure that the problems now disrupting the housing industry do not happen again. The fundamentals of America's economy are strong – economic growth is healthy, wages are rising, and unemployment is low. The markets are in a period of transition as participants are re-assessing and re-pricing risk. One area that has shown particular strain is the mortgage market, particularly the subprime sector.

The President Announced The Following Steps To Help American Families Keep Their Homes

The President Supports Actions To Protect Homeowners And Prevent These Problems From Happening Again

Federal Banking Regulators Are Improving Disclosure Requirements To Ensure That Lenders Provide Homeowners With Complete, Accurate, And Understandable Information About Their Mortgages. Many borrowers did not receive clear and complete disclosure regarding the terms and conditions of their mortgages. To help protect homeowners in the future, Federal banking regulators recently issued new disclosure guidelines for lenders, and they continue to consider new rules. Homeowners must have complete, accurate, and understandable information – including on the potential increases in their monthly payments.

Federal Banking Regulators Are Working To Strengthen Mortgage Lending Standards. Questionable underwriting standards enabled mortgage lenders to place some borrowers in sophisticated products they could not afford. The Federal banking regulators recently set forth new guidelines to address lending standards, and they will continue to examine new rules. Lenders have an obligation to ensure that their standards accurately measure whether borrowers can afford their mortgage.

The Administration Is Working On New Rules To Help Consumers Shop For The Best Loan Terms. This fall, HUD will propose reforms to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that would promote comparative shopping by consumers for the best loan terms, provide clearer disclosures, limit settlement cost increases, and require fee disclosure.

The Administration Supports State-Based Efforts To Create A Comprehensive Mortgage Broker Registration System. The President has also asked Secretary Paulson to examine the broad issues surrounding mortgage brokers and originators.

The Administration Is Committed To Pursuing Fraud And Wrongdoing In The Mortgage Industry. Some lenders deceived their customers – and pushed them into taking out loans they knew these home buyers could not afford. Federal agencies, such as HUD, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and others, are aggressively pursuing wrongdoers and predatory lenders to ensure they are punished. This will send the message that these practices will not be tolerated.

The President Will Create A Presidential Council On Financial Literacy Composed Of Leading Private Sector Individuals Who Can Help Promote Financial Literacy. This Council will work closely with the Treasury Department, HUD, and the Department of Education to make sure that we are raising awareness of these complicated issues.

The President Supports The Efforts Of Public and Private Sector Groups That Are Promoting Financial Literacy And Providing Foreclosure Counseling. For example, the President's Budget proposes $120 million for NeighborWorks, which provides foreclosure workshops and counseling to borrowers. The President's FY 2008 Budget request includes $50 million for HUD's housing counseling program.

The President Has Asked Secretary Paulson To Lead The President's Working Group On Financial Markets In Examining Some Of The Broader Market Issues Underlying The Recent Mortgage Problems. The President's Working Group on Financial Markets is led by Treasury Secretary Paulson and is composed of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Cox, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Chairman Lukken. The group will examine:

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