GAO Study: Home Appraisal Process Flawed

by 01 Mar 2012

A Government Accounting Office study has raised concerns over the quality and oversight of the appraisal industry.

(Builderonline) The Government Accounting Office has come to the same conclusion many home builders have: the home loan appraisal process remains flawed.

“Some 20 years after the passage of Title XI [which establishes rules about appraiser qualifications and independence] questions remain about the oversight of the appraisal industry and the quality of appraisals,” says the recently released GAO report.

Appraisal fraud, the deliberate overstatement or understatement of a home’s value, remains a concern. Of the 816 mortgage fraud cases the FBI closed from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, 92 involved appraisal fraud, the report said.

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And there are still worries within the industry that the increased use of appraisal management companies, which are often accused of focusing more on the bottom line and quick processing, is sacrificing quality, the report continued.

A much-simplified summation of the GAO’s study is that the appraisal process needs better monitoring. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees and said there is evidence that the flawed system is continuing to hamper the home building industry’s recovery by derailing sales.

A recent NAHB poll showed that one out of three builders surveyed lost signed sales contracts because of flawed appraisals. And a National Association of Realtors survey conducted last fall found 18% of Realtors reporting recent contract cancellations or delays as a result of a low appraisal.

“The current system is not working,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen in Nation’s Building News. “We must resolve a flawed appraisal process that produces inaccurate assessment of home values because this fosters price instability, puts more families in danger of default or foreclosure, and undermines the housing and economic recoveries.”

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