New appraisal code causes chaos

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate

The new "code of conduct" that was supposed to protect lenders and borrowers from faulty appraisals has caused higher costs, delays and considerable chaos in home sales and loan refinances.

Mortgage brokers, appraisers and real estate agents are up in arms over the new rules, which dictate how lenders select an appraiser when they originate certain home loans. Few borrowers care much, if at all, about how appraisers are hired or paid, but those borrowers whose loans have been delayed or derailed due to the new rules may take a very keen interest, indeed.

At the center of the controversy is the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, or HVCC, which outlines appraisal-related practices lenders must follow with respect to so-called conventional or conforming loans that they want to sell to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The practices are intended to reduce the incidence of appraisal fraud and prevent inappropriate pressure being placed on appraisers to inflate home valuations. The code, which became effective May 1, does not apply to "FHA loans," which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or "VA loans," which are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both posted FAQs about the code.)

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