Walking to work.

AuthorHewitt, Janet Reilley

MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION (MBA) Chief Executive Officer Dave Stevens is doing his part to keep the nation's home sales numbers up. He is personally moving the needle. Stevens pushed the home sales number up by one full unit in the District of Columbia when he bought a house in Georgetown early this year. [paragraph] But it turns out the January home sales numbers needed a lot more help than that.

The national numbers for existing-home sales were released on Feb. 23, and the performance was kind of grim. Total existing sales declined by 4.9 percent from December. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.82 million was the lowest rate in nine months. Even so, the rate of existing sales was still 3.2 percent higher than in January 2014. So things could have been worse. (It might help to think of it this way: We could all live in Boston, where snow has become a way of life).

Stevens, who moved into his new place last month, says he will be walking to work because his house is only 1 mile to MBA's headquarters. This comment was prompted by our question about whether Georgetown's parking problems had been fully disclosed by his Realtor(r) prior to purchase. He said he was well aware of the shortage of parking in his new neighborhood before looking to buy there, so he went in with eyes wide open.

We wanted to test his loyalty to the home "state," so we asked him where he came down on the issue of D.C. statehood. Is he for it? "Absolutely!"

"No taxation without representation," he said, echoing the tagline on the D.C. license plate. So you can put this D.C. resident down in the "yes" column if the topic ever comes to a vote. Then again, this Congress is having a hard time getting the budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved, so the odds for a vote on a statehood amendment are beyond remote. (I just recently noticed that David H. Stevens and the Department of Homeland Security share the same initials. Not sure where to go with that.)

When we sat down with Stevens, it was shortly after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had put up its new Rate Checker tool on its website geared at helping consumers shop for a mortgage. The new tool is part of an interactive online toolkit called "Owning a Home" that is part of the bureau's Know Before You Owe program. The Integrated Disclosure forms are also a part of this initiative to empower borrowers to better understand the mortgage selection process so they can really...

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