The National Home Equity Mortgage Association board of directors has voted unanimously to merge with the Mortgage Bankers Association, according to an announcement Wednesday. The MBA board had previously approved the concept of the merger.

NHEMA represents the nonprime mortgage lending industry and is comprised of 220 mortgage lenders accounting for 80 percent of outstanding nonprime mortgage loans. The groups characterized the merger as a “natural progression for NHEMA and MBA, which will further strengthen the mortgage lending industry as a whole.”

“This merger has been in development for several months and we would be thrilled to see NHEMA become a part of MBA,” Regina Lowrie, MBA’s chairman, said in a prepared statement.

NHEMA expects to officially become part of MBA on Oct. 1. At that time, a new council will be formed that will be made up of NHEMA leadership, NHEMA’s current board of directors as charter members and selected MBA members. This council will continue NHEMA’s focus on nonprime mortgage lending issues and will report to MBA’s residential board of governors. The council will meet for the first time at MBA’s annual convention in Chicago in late October.

The MBA is the national association representing the real estate finance industry, which employs more than 500,000 people.

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