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April 2015

AQB Adopts New State Background Check Requirements

The Appraiser Qualifications Board on March 20 adopted significant changes to the background check requirements of the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria. The new requirements are modifications to original background check requirements adopted by the AQB in December 2011, which never took effect. The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The new requirements state, “All applicants for a real property appraiser credential shall possess a background that would not call into question public trust.” Applicants will be required to provide state regulatory agencies with all information and documents necessary for the jurisdiction to determine an applicant’s fitness for licensure or certification. Applicants who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a crime that would call into question the applicant’s fitness for licensure with the five-year period immediately preceding the date of the application for licensing automatically would be disqualified from obtaining an appraiser credential.

Importantly, these new requirements provide states with much more flexibility in how they determine whether or not an applicant has a background that would call into question the public trust. The original requirements adopted in 2011 required all candidates for a real property appraiser credential to undergo “background screening” and to provide fingerprints to the state appraiser licensing and certification agency for submission to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (or other government agency) to utilize in connection with a state and national background check. Under the new requirements, states are not required to perform formal background checks and can instead satisfy the minimum AQB criteria by asking appraisers if they have any events in their past that may disqualify them from obtaining an appraiser credential.

Unfortunately, the impact of these new requirements on the state background checks that appraisers are required to undergo likely will be limited because most states (42) enacted their background check requirements prior to the AQB’s requirements. Many of these state laws contain provisions that were consistent with the 2011 criteria and require appraisers to submit fingerprints and to undergo formal background checks by a state or a federal law enforcement agency.

The AQB also adopted a new “AQB Guide Note (GN-9)” that gives states additional guidance on how to evaluate an applicant’s background, including “Examples of Issues to Consider” and examples of elements of an applicant’s background that have a “Substantial Relationship” to the qualifications, functions and duties of an appraiser. The Guide Note also suggests that state appraiser licensing agencies “should consider all evidence related to the extent an applicant is rehabilitated.”

In a letter to the AQB last July, the Appraisal Institute requested that any background check requirements be made applicable only to new appraiser credential applicants who currently are not credentialed in another state. AI also requested that any background check requirements exempt existing credential holders and applicants for a credential via reciprocity or a temporary practice permit.

Read the new background check requirementsas they were proposed in the Fifth Exposure Draft of a Proposed Revision to the 2015 Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria and Guide Note 9 (GN-9).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may need another taxpayer bailout due to increased risks caused by shrinking reserves, according to a report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General, Reuters reported March 18. The government-sponsored enterprises received a $187 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008. 

Read more about the possible need to bail out the GSEs.


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