WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Angelo R. Mozilo, chairman,
CEO and president of Countrywide Financial Corporation, Inc., (NYSE: CFC),
urged mortgage professionals, housing experts and others to address the
obstacles that create an "intolerably wide" gap between minority and
lower-income homeownership and what is classified as white homeownership.
Mozilo delivered the John T. Dunlop Lecture sponsored by the Joint Center for
Housing Studies of Harvard University and the National Housing Endowment on
In his presentation entitled "The American Dream of Homeownership: From
Cliche to Mission," Mozilo told his audience, "Expanding the American dream of
homeownership must continue to be our mission, not solely for the purpose of
benefiting Corporate America, but more importantly, to make our country a
better place." He went on to outline bold suggestions that the mortgage
industry and others should consider to overcome barriers to homeownership.
These include elimination of mortgage down payment requirements, educational
efforts to make the home loan process easier to comprehend, and reduction and
streamlining of loan application documentation.
Mozilo drew upon his 50 years of experience in the mortgage industry and
cited Countrywide's successful efforts to increase homeownership opportunities
for minority and lower-income borrowers. From these perspectives, he
identified and commented on several structural obstacles within residential
finance business practices that adversely impact home-buying among these
-- The loan underwriting process: "We must look for ways to capture
'alternative' payment histories and to properly factor in cultural
differences in credit, income and spending habits, so that we can say
'yes' to borrowers who have the ability and willingness to make their
mortgage payments. Credit scores must not be the dominant factor for
assessing risk. Non-traditional factors such as rent and utility
payment history should be imbedded in the automated underwriting
-- Loan performance measurement: "Let's focus on the majority of people
who are successfully managing their loans and living their dream.
Let's not be obsessed by the few that fail, but instead be encouraged
by the vast majority who succeed. Let's look for every possible reason
to approve applicants, not to reject them."
-- Counter-productive regulatory efforts: "With respect to predatory
lending, enough of the mania. Let's be mindful that reputable lenders
cannot operate under hundreds of laws that only have one thing in
common -- the word 'predatory.' Subprime lending and predatory lending
are not the same thing. Brushing them with one broad stroke only wipes
out the opportunities for homeownership for too many deserving
low-income and minority home buyers."
Mozilo spoke of the importance of homeownership to families, communities
and the nation. "In addition to increasing personal wealth and adding to our
national economy, creating more homeownership opportunities and narrowing the
homeownership gap increases social capital. In other words, it ties families,
neighborhoods and communities together," he explained.
Citing several studies, he noted that children living in owned homes have
higher math and reading achievement levels, and homeowners are more likely
than renters to belong to civic groups, such as parent-teacher organizations.
In conclusion, Mozilo said, "Housing is critical to our nation's welfare
and to our communities' well-being. Let's make sure that the American dream
of Homeownership is never a cliche, and always our cause, and always our
steadfast mission. We have the resources. Together, as partners, let's show
The John T. Dunlop Lecture was held at the National Housing Center in
Washington, DC. The Dunlop Lecture series honors a distinguished member of the
Harvard community in recognizing the contributions of emeritus professor John
T. Dunlop and his distinguished career at the University, in government, and
in the private sector. Dunlop played a key role in establishing the Policy
Advisory Board of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Mozilo serves on that
board, as well as the Board of Trustees of the National Housing Endowment, and
has been inducted into the National Association of Home Builders Hall of Fame.
Founded in 1969, Countrywide Financial Corporation, Inc. (formerly
Countrywide Credit Industries, Inc.) is a member of the S&P 500, Fortune
500 and Forbes 500. Countrywide, through its family of companies, provides
mortgage banking and diversified financial services in domestic and
international markets. Consumer businesses include mortgages, insurance and
other financial products. Business-to-business activities encompass capital
markets, transaction processing and insurance. The company is headquartered
in Calabasas, California, and has 30,000 employees with more than 500 offices
nationwide. For more information about the company, visit Countrywide's Web
site at www.countrywide.com.
SOURCE Countrywide Financial Corporation, Inc.