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Where are the Parcels? 5 Years Since Mortgage Crisis, Key Tool Not Used

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
This week is the 5th anniversary of the financial crisis that led to the worst economic downturn since the great depression.

The crisis had mortgages at its root.
There was widespread evidence that the severity of the crisis was at least in part caused by the inability of the United States to have an early warning system to detect anomalies and negative trends in the mortgage market -- a national parcel based system.
There are a number of experts, including Dr. Ian Williamson at the University of Melbourne and The Honorable Gary Nairn, a member of Parliament in Australia and a professional surveyor, have been critical of the United States for the lack of a national parcel system.
A national summit of geospatial stakeholders on the mortgage crisis was held in May of 2009.

One recommendation that emerged from that meeting was to amend the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to collect mortgage transaction data at the parcel level.

MAPPS promoted that recommendation in Congress, and the result was enactment of such a provision in the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation.  Dodd-Frank also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was given the authority to implement the enacted legislative provision.

While the rate of foreclosure in the U.S. is declining, 10.7 million homeowners nationwide — representing 26 percent of all outstanding homes with a mortgage — are still seriously underwater, meaningthey owed at least 25 percent more on their home than what it was worth.
The question today, on the 5th anniversary of the mortgage crisis is - "are we any closer to a national parcel system than we were in September 2008?"

Not according to Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data Strategies (Franklin, TN), President-Elect of MAPPS and chair of the association’s Cadastre Task Force. "It is unfortunate to admit that any progress towards a national parcel system has only been in the areas of education and awareness.  Five years later we still don't have an action plan for putting a useful system in place to monitor and prevent another housing meltdown,” said Marlow.

A year before the mortgage crisis began; the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences issued a report, National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future, recommending a national parcel system.  Ms. Marlow was a member of the study panel. The Chair, Dr. David Cowen, professor emeritus of the geography department at the University of South Carolina, also served as chairman of the federal government’s National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC).  He notes with frustration that a parcel system was "recommended by NRC panel and endorsed by NGAC”, but still not implemented the federal government.

Indeed, the CFPB is not even a member of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), the interagency committee tasked by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with coordinating the development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis.

Tags:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  FGDC  Geospatial  Mortgage  National Spatial Data Infrastructure  NSDI  Parcels 

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