AHA Press Release
CONTACT: Barbara Fickett, 203-323-7715, ext. 300

AHA American Homeowners Association Applauds HUD Secretary Martinez on "Homebuyer Bill of Rights"

Stamford, CT (June 28, 2002) - The American Homeowners Association (AHA)® has a long-standing mission of consumer education and advocacy. In fact, its founder Richard J.Roll's testimony before the U.S. House Banking Committee was central to the creation of HUD regulations in 1995 that required lenders to overhaul their mortgage escrow practices and eliminate overcharges. The revamped HUD rules affected over 30 million escrow accounts nationwide and produced significant refunds to millions of consumers nationwide.

The American Homeowners Association announced its strong support of the Bush administration and Secretary Martinez's efforts toward helping Americans better understand their mortgage rights which will further the AHA mission of and expanding homeownership opportunities for all Americans. The new "Homebuyers Bill of Rights"will expand the regulatory requirements under the Federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The action by AHA in announcing its support joins with that of the Mortgage Bankers Association which gave its overwhelming support to the new bill.

"Americans spend approximately $50 billion each year on settlement costs without knowing exactly what they are paying for or having the opportunity to shop effectively for the best mortgage to suit their needs," said Martinez. "The Bush Administration believes it is time to take the confusion and uncertainty out of the home buying process, by making loan shopping and settlement less frustrating and more understandable and ultimately, less costly."

"This new 'Homebuyers Bill of Rights' will positively impact consumers pocketbooks in many ways" said Richard J. Roll, President of the American Homeowners Association (AHA)®. " Not only will it help eliminate bait and switch fraud and other abuses associated with today's complex rules, but it will provide greater clarity and choices for the homebuyer in shopping for a competitive lower cost mortgage. It will clarify the settlement cost disclosures and level the playing field for the average consumer", Roll stated.

The proposed "Homebuyer Bill of Rights" is founded on a set of consumer-driven principles that would guide the settlement process. These principles mandate that homebuyers have the right:

  1. To receive settlement cost information early in the process, allowing them to shop for the mortgage product and settlement services that best meet their needs;
  2. To have the disclosed costs be as firm as possible, thereby avoiding surprises at settlement;
  3. To benefit from new products, competition and technological innovations that could lower settlement costs;
  4. To have access to better borrower education and simplified disclosure; and,
  5. To know they are protected through vigorous RESPA enforcement and a level playing field for all industry providers.

To meet these principles, HUD would reform the home buying process by:

  1. Changing the way lender payments to brokers are recorded and reported to consumers;
  2. Significantly improving HUD's Good Faith Estimate settlement cost disclosure; and,
  3. Removing regulatory barriers to allow market forces and increased competition to promote greater choice for consumers by allowing guaranteed packages or "bundling" of settlement services and mortgage loans.

In addition, Martinez discussed HUD's continuing effort to empower homebuyers through greater education and by developing proposals that would further protect consumers in the home buying process.

Says Roll "These goals dovetail completely with those of the American Homeowners Association (AHA)® and we will continue make available policy information on our website at www.ahahome.com to be sure our members and the home buying public are up to date on all new rules and regulations as they happen."

About The American Homeowners Association (AHA)®:

The American Homeowners Association (AHA)® www.ahahome.com is America's #1 Homeowner Organization, serving over 100,000 active members across all 50 states. AHA's membership services for homeowners and aspiring homeowners expand their purchasing power, provide reliable resources in case of a household or home repair emergency, help members make more informed decisions, and represent their key interests in both the public and private sectors. AHA' mission is to assist members by providing vital information, savings and services to improve their long term financial security and quality of life, reducing the recurring costs of owning, financing, maintaining and enhancing a home, helping homeowners and renters make more informed choices, advocating greater clarity, disclosure and efficiencies in mortgages and other financial services and screening and identifying reliable products and service providers.



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