WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 29, 2008) – Today, the nation’s largest professional organization of real estate appraisers submitted a joint industry response to the creation of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct – a guideline established in an agreement reached by the New York Attorney General’s Office, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). In its letter, the Appraisal Institute applauded Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s work with Fannie Mae Freddie Mac and OFHEO to reinforce the independence of real estate appraisers and the integrity of appraisals, but also expressed serious concerns about certain aspects of the agreement that could be harmful to the delivery of residential appraisal services and, possibly, to the mortgage underwriting process itself.
Specifically, the Appraisal Institute and its sister organizations expressed concern about destroying well-established relationships between honest appraisers and reputable mortgage professionals. They also voiced concern about banning important appraisal functions within financial institutions, and encouraging factors such as appraisal price and turnaround time to take precedence over appraiser competency and appraisal quality, among other things.
“The basic framework of the agreement and the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct is very good, but we think many sections of the new appraisal guidelines should be revised because of potentially severe unintended consequences,” said Bill Garber, the Appraisal Institute’s Director of Government and External Relations. “Our comments are meant to be solution-based and we hope that the parties will implement them to the best of their ability.”
For example, the new guidelines ban appraisers working for financial institutions that sell loans to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac from performing appraisals. Upon review, and given that there is virtually no public record of abuse in this area, the appraisal organization proposes eliminating this ban. Further, given that federally regulated institutions are subject to bank examinations and adherence to federal appraisal independence requirements, as well as a pending amendment to the Truth-in-Lending Act that grants greater federal enforcement authority over non-bank mortgage lenders in this area, this proposed ban should be dropped.
To formulate its comment letter, the Appraisal Institute relied on feedback from its members, who represent virtually all aspects of the residential real estate appraisal profession, as well as the input of industry leaders.
“This letter is only a first step in a long journey to advance appraisal independence issues,” said R. Wayne Pugh, MAI, Appraisal Institute President. “We have committed the resources of our organizations to the Agreement’s parties, as they seek to implement the Agreement and the HVCC.”
For more information on the comment letter sent to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, click here.