Reducing or even eliminating the mortgage interest deduction could be worth considering as part of a comprehensive reform of the American tax code, Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens told CNBC on Wednesday.
"We're not religiously wed to the mortgage interest deduction," Stevens said on "Squawk Box," in a sign the real estate financing industry may be open to dealing on the popular tax break.
"Entry level homebuyers typically don't deduct, don't itemize. And wealthy borrowers won't really care," Stevens said. "[But] everybody needs to understand the American that benefits from the mortgage interest deduction is the middle-class homebuyer."
For changes to the mortgage interest deduction to be on the table, Stevens said a broad tax reform package would have to provide offsetting protection for working Americans.
Beyond taxes, the next president needs to focus on housing because it's a fifth of the gross domestic product, Stevens said. He called for an easing of complex regulations borne of the 2006 real estate peak and subsequent crash.
"We had an under-regulated world that created the bubble," he said. "But things do over-correct. And today, we have an extraordinary web of federal regulators and state regulators ... causing builders to be less eager to build ... [and ] lenders to pull back."
Asked whether he would naturally support GOP presidential nominee and real estate mogul Donald Trump, Stevens dodged the question. He said he'd support the candidate, Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, with the best plan for housing.