What’s in the President’s hand?

President Barack Obama holds up a proposed mortgage application form

President Barack Obama holds up a proposed mortgage application form as he speaks at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. (Credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

If you’ve ever bought a house, you probably remember the pages and pages of documents you signed. You probably wished they could be clearer and make more sense.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) thinks these forms can be clearer, too. They’ve been working on a new standard for mortgage disclosures — those forms that summarize the costs of a home loan.

The CFPB project, Know Before You Owe, has collected input from thousands of people in both in-person usability testing and through online comments collected on their web site.

In a story on CBS News, we found a photo of President Obama holding a version of the proposed form.┬áHere’s what CBS News reported about the President’s comments:

“The president recalled his and First Lady Michelle Obama’s experience buying their first home together – a process he described, humorously, as so complicated that the two of them would end up looking through the forms and asking “what does this phrase mean?”

“And that’s, you know, for two trained lawyers,” he laughed.

He held up a one-page mock-up of what he wants such forms to look like in the future, and pointed to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) as a means to achieving that end. …

The goal, he said, was to make things “simple, not complicated,” to protect consumers from getting “cheated.”

“Terms are clear. Fees are transparent,” he said.”

That’s plain language at work!

Obama unveils mortgage refinancing plan by Lucy Madison, CBS News Political Hotsheet, February 1, 2012

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Center for Plain Language (centerforplainlanguage.org)


Printed April 20, 2014


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