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Being a great leader is about more than seizing opportunity, said David H. Stevens, CMB, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association at the opening general session of MBA’s National Secondary Market Conference and Expo in New York City this week. According to Stevens, true leaders also take on challenges.

Taking on challenges is exactly what today’s real estate leaders must be prepared to do when facing a housing industry that, while recovering, is still riddled with obstacles.

“When we look at the business environment today, we see both opportunities and challenges,” said Stevens. “And now, more than ever, we need great leadership. Leadership in our industry, leadership for our nation, and world leadership that understands the fragility and interconnectedness that binds us together.”

Stevens continued: “Leadership isn’t easy. We must know when to fight, but also when to stay the course. It’s been nearly 10 years since the financial crisis began. Since the crisis we have been confronted with thousands of pages of new laws and regulations that impact every part of our business. Add on to this new (and often unclear) interpretations of old rules and unique uses of existing laws like the civil war -era False Claims Act.”

Addressing the state of today’s mortgage scene, Stevens commented that although the lending environment is most conservative, many lenders still feel under attack.

“Add in a political atmosphere complete with broad brush accusations in political rhetoric that only perpetuate anger towards an industry that’s sole purpose is to provide real estate finance opportunities to qualified borrowers, and it can be tough not to want to fight back,” Stevens said. “ For the past five years, we’ve been fighting the good fight to responsibly and sustainably provide access to credit and to help offer those opportunities for qualified borrowers. MBA has been the outsized voice, advancing a litany of important policy changes that are making a difference. Most importantly, this has been a team effort. Working with all our members, we’ve been successful because we have led with one voice on behalf of an entire industry that knows firsthand the challenges borrowers face today. This is much broader than the secondary market – I’m talking about the entire real estate finance system.”

Stevens went on to address multiple challenges and solutions, including revisions to compensatory fees, the diversion of guarantee fees, the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the future of the GSEs.

To read Stevens statements in full, visit