Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Adopt New Appraisal Standards

So here’s some interesting news, dear readers. News that will absolutely piss off most mortgage brokers. New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, with just a simple threat of a lawsuit, got Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to agree to never again purchase a single loan from lenders that refuse to meet new appraisal standards these folks have come up with. Now Fannie and Freddie happen to still be the largest purchasers of U.S. home mortgages in the country. They HOPE that the new standards will ensure independent and reliable appraisals.

Within the agreement is the basis to create an independent organization to implement and monitor the new appraisal standards. Independent? Sounds like another layer of bureaucracy to me. Basically, here is what the agreement says:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together purchase nearly 60% of all home loans originated in the United States, have agreed to the following:

The creation of a “New Home Valuation Protection Code,”. It will govern appraisal selection, solicitation, compensation, conflicts of interest and corporate
independence among other reforms. Mortgage brokers will be prohibited from choosing their own appraisers, lenders will be prohibited from maintaining an “in-house” staff to conduct initial appraisals and they will also be prohibited from using appraisal management companies which they own or have control.

The new reforms are to begin January 1, 2009. At that point, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will only purchase loans from lenders that represent and warrant that
their appraisals will conform to the new code or they will just not be purchased.

A new organization will be created. It will be funded by Fannie and Freddie to the tune of approximately $ 24 million and will field complaints from appraisers who
believe that their independence has been compromised. It promises to protect those appraisers from retaliation, although in practice, that seems a pretty high

The institute plans to establish a nationwide consumer hotline to manage complaints about appraisal fraud or violations of the new code. Andrew Cuomo said, “Today’s agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac begins to set right what had gone so horribly wrong in the mortgage industry – rampant appraisal fraud,”. The integrity of our mortgage system depends on independent appraisals. Again and again our industry-wide investigation found that banks were putting pressure on appraisers to drive up the value of loans just to make a quick buck. We believe the new standards, and the new independent monitor agreed to today, can begin to erase this problem from the industry.”

How eloquent. Is anyone else sick and tired of watching as regulators spray fire extinguishers on burnt cinders? These regulations would have been great in 2002. Supposedly, Cuomo got this agreement hammered down by laying down an ultimatum, telling Freddie & Fannie that he wanted a deal by early this week or he would sue.

Truth be told, I am not a pissed off mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers most definitely used their influence, their promise of future business, in order to get appraisers to bring values in for what was needed to make a deal. So here we once again seeing mortgage brokers being reigned in. Now, I am against over regulation of an industry. But when an industry cannot regulate itself, and I hate to say it, but the government probably does need to step in. But where were the state banking departments? The Appraisal Institute? The LENDERS??? Look – World Savings Bank has never allowed a mortgage broker to order their own appraisal. And from what I understand, their default rate is way below the rest of the industry. But they were practically the only lender to uphold that requirement.

As a mortgage broker I did not apply pressure on my appraisers to bring values in “on the number”. I didn’t feel that it was right for a home buyer. I also didn’t feel it was right for the lender that was going to end up with the loan. But I’m different than most originators out there. Number one, I am not greedy. Part of that comes from having a good amount of business & loan officers that bring in more loans for the company. But some loan officers are greedy. Others were feeling the pressure from their referral sources, such as Realtors. Can you hear a real estate agent, one that maybe only closes a deal a month, can you hear any calm in her voice when the loan officer calls to say that the appraisal didn’t come in high enough?

But don’t get me wrong. I lament the stripping away of another service I provide. That service is to provide a competant appraiser to perform a quality dependable appraisal in a timely fashion. I like to choose my own appraiser so that I can further establish the superiority of my service over my competitors. THAT is why I want control over who handles my appraisals. But too many brokers have ruined it for me, my company and the rest of us ethical and honest mortgage brokers. I hate it… but I understand it.

Ron Borg is the founder & CEO of offers mortgage shoppers a safer
way to comparison shop online.
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