Friday, October 29, 2010

FRB: Appraisal Independence - Interim Final Rule

On October 28, 2010, the Federal Reserve Board published an interim final rule in response to revision requirements to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), pursuant to the mandates of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. TILA Section 129E establishes new requirements for appraisal independence for consumer credit transactions secured by the consumer's principal dwelling.

The amendments ensure that real estate appraisals used to support creditors' underwriting decisions are based on the appraiser's independent professional judgment, free of any influence or pressure that may be exerted by parties that have an interest in the transaction. The amendments also seek to ensure that creditors and their agents pay customary and reasonable fees to appraisers.

The interim final rule applies to a person who extends credit or provides services in connection with a consumer credit transaction secured by a consumer's principal dwelling. Although TILA and Regulation Z generally apply only to persons to whom the obligation is initially made payable and that regularly engage in extending consumer credit, TILA Section 129E and the interim final rule apply to persons that provide services without regard to whether they also extend consumer credit by originating mortgage loans. Thus, the interim final rule applies to creditors, appraisal management companies, appraisers, mortgage brokers, realtors, title insurers and other firms that provide settlement services.

Specifically, the interim final rule applies to appraisals for any consumer credit transaction secured by the consumer's principal dwelling. Covering consumer credit transactions is consistent with the scope of TILA generally, which only applies to credit extended for personal, family or household purposes. The revisions provide a broader scope, as required by Section 1472 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which does not limit coverage to closed-end loans and also covers HELOCs.

Finally, with a few exceptions, the interim final rule applies to any person who performs valuation services, performs valuation management functions, and to any valuation of the consumer's principal dwelling, not just to a licensed or certified ''appraiser,'' an ''appraisal management company,'' or to a formal ''appraisal.''

The Board seeks comment on this interim final rule.

Effective: December 27, 2010
Compliance Date: April 1, 2011
Comments Deadline: December 27, 2010



Coercion and prohibited extensions of credit.

-Prohibits covered persons from engaging in coercion, bribery, and other similar actions designed to cause anyone who prepares a valuation to base the value of the property on factors other than the person's independent judgment.

-Prohibits a creditor from extending credit based on a valuation if the creditor knows, at or before consummation, that (a) coercion or other similar conduct has occurred, or (b) that the person who prepares a valuation or who performs valuation management services has a prohibited interest in the property or the transaction as discussed below, unless the creditor uses reasonable diligence to determine that the valuation does not materially misstate the value of the property.

Conflicts of interest.

-Provides that a person who prepares a valuation or who performs valuation management services may not have an interest, financial or otherwise, in the property or the transaction. The Dodd-Frank Act does not expressly ban the use of in-house appraisers or affiliates. However, because the Act prohibits appraisers from having an ''indirect financial interest'' in the transaction, it is possible to interpret the Act to prohibit creditors from using in house staff appraisers and affiliated appraisal management companies (AMCs).

-Clarifies that an employment relationship or affiliation does not, by itself, violate the prohibition.

-Establishes a safe harbor and specific criteria for establishing firewalls between the appraisal function and the loan production function, to prevent conflicts of interest. Special guidance on firewalls is provided for small institutions, because they likely cannot completely separate appraisal and loan production staff. Small institutions are those with assets of $250 million or less.

Mandatory reporting of appraiser misconduct.

-Provides that a creditor or settlement service provider involved in the transaction who has a reasonable basis to believe that an appraiser has not complied with ethical or professional requirements for appraisers under applicable federal or state law, or the Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP) must report the failure to comply to the appropriate state licensing agency.

-Limits the duty to report compliance failures to those that are likely to affect the value assigned to the property.

-Provides that a person has a ''reasonable basis'' to believe an appraiser has not complied with the law or applicable standards, only if the person has knowledge or evidence that would lead a reasonable person under the circumstances to believe that a material failure to comply has occurred.

Customary and reasonable rate of compensation for fee appraisers.

-A creditor and its agent must pay a fee appraiser at a rate that is reasonable and customary in the geographic market where the property is located. The rule provides two presumptions of compliance. Under the first, a creditor and its agent is presumed to have paid a customary and reasonable fee if the fee is reasonably related to recent rates paid for appraisal services in the relevant geographic market, and, in setting the fee, the creditor or its agent has:

· Taken into account specific factors, which include, for example, the type of property and the scope of work; and

· Not engaged in any anti-competitive actions, in violation of state or federal law, that affect the appraisal fee, such as price fixing or restricting others from entering the market.

-A creditor or its agent would also be presumed to comply if it establishes a fee by relying on rates established by third party information, such as the appraisal fee schedule issued by the Veteran's Administration, and/or fee surveys and reports that are performed by an independent third party (the Act provides that these surveys and reports must not include fees paid by AMCs).


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Federal Reserve Board
Interim Final Rule - Appraiser Independence
Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 208
October 28, 2010


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