David Stevens will leave his job as head of the Federal Housing Administration at the end of the month and take over as the top executive at the Mortgage Bankers Association in early May, the trade group said.

The former Long & Foster Cos. executive took over at FHA in 2009, when demand for its mortgage insurance program had soared but losses on loans insured during the housing boom were mounting.

Auditors say FHA’s mortgage insurance program is unlikely to require a taxpayer bailout, in part because of premium restructuring and tightened underwriting standards and oversight of lenders instituted on Stevens’ watch.

Stevens "has had a tremendous impact at FHA," and brings "a wealth of industry experience in mortgage lending" that he can bring to bear in advocating the positions of mortgage bankers, said MBA Chairman Michael Berman in a statement.

Stevens will succeed John Courson, who faced another set of challenges running the MBA, Berman acknowledged.

When Courson took over in August 2008, the MBA was facing "serious financial challenges" due not only to the meltdown in the mortgage market but the MBA’s purchase of a new headquarters building. Courson sold the building and left MBA’s budget in the black, Berman said.

In a report last year, the MBA said it applauded Stevens for "the bold programmatic changes he has implemented in recent months," but questioned whether the "pendulum (has) swung too far" in terms of tighter underwriting standards.

"For decades, the hallmark of FHA has been borrowers with low credit scores, spotty credit and limited funds for a down payment," the MBA report said, with FHA borrowers averaging credit scores in the 620 to 660 range.

From January 2008 to September 2009 the average credit score of FHA borrowers went from 621 to 689, the report noted. Minority borrowers, who in 2006 accounted for 30 percent of FHA-insured loans, made up only 24.4 percent of FHA borrowers in 2009.

Stevens, the past president and chief operating officer of Long & Foster Cos., started his career as a loan officer at World Savings Bank, where he worked for 16 years.

He later served briefly as executive vice president at Wells Fargo, and spent seven years as a senior vice president at Freddie Mac, where he created and ran the company’s small lender channel.

Stevens has also served on the board of directors of the Real Estate Services Providers Council Inc., or RESPRO, a trade association representing companies that provide services through affiliated businesses.

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