The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development this Thursday will host its third roundtable discussion on improving the home-buying process.

The forum, co-hosted by the Small Business Administration, is slated for Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at HUD’s regional office on Cherry Street in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The event is the third in a series HUD has planned to get input from consumers and industry professionals on how to improve the mortgage settlement process. Attendees will include representatives from HUD and SBA and invited representatives from small- to medium-sized businesses.

Reform of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, has been an issue for years. Alphonso Jackson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, in late April promised members of a national mortgage banking association to seek their input on reform of RESPA.

The housing agency has attempted to simplify the home-buying process for consumers by making changes to RESPA, which regulates the closing process.

HUD’s “roadmap” for reforming RESPA’s regulatory requirements includes three Washington roundtables for invited representatives of consumer and industry organizations. In addition, HUD and the Small Business Administration plan roundtable discussions in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas-Ft. Worth specifically designed to hear from the small business community.

HUD’s previous attempts to make changes to RESPA to simplify the home-buying process for consumers came to a halt in March 2004 when Jackson withdrew the agency’s proposal from the White House Office of Management and Budget. At that time, Jackson said HUD would reexamine the rule, revise it if necessary and re-propose it.

The original changes, proposed about three years ago, netted an unprecedented 45,000 comments during the public comment portion in 2002. Many of those came from within the real estate industry in opposition to the changes.

The original proposal would have changed the disclosure requirements for mortgage broker fees, including the controversial yield spread premiums, simplify the good faith estimate form and permit the sale of guaranteed-price bundled packages of mortgages and mortgage-related services. The changes aimed to make it easier for home buyers to understand the closing process.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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