Appraiser Independence Critical to Veterans’ Home Loans, Appraisal Institute Tells Congress

CHICAGO (April 4, 2017) by PRESS RELEASE– The nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers Turesday, April 4th urged Congress to protect the independence of real estate appraisers in the federal program that provides housing loans to military veterans. The Appraisal Institute testified at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Appraisal Institute specifically addressed a central ordering feature of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Appraiser Fee Panel during its testimony before the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The hearing was called to address the topic “Assessing VA Approved Appraisers and How to Improve the Program for the 21st Century.”

“The Appraisal Institute supports the basic framework of the VA Fee Panel in contrast to what is currently found in the Federal Housing Administration or the private sector,” Appraisal Institute Vice President Stephen S. Wagner, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS, told the subcommittee. “By comparison, the structure of the Fee Panel facilitates a greater degree of appraisal independence and represents a much more positive environment for real estate appraisers.”

Veterans Affairs maintains a Fee Panel of approved real estate appraisers who work on behalf of the agency in providing collateral risk assessment in support of the VA Home Loan program. The Fee Panel is directly managed by the VA and consists of a pool of several thousand appraisers who accept VA appraisal assignments on a rotating basis.

Wagner, a former member of the Fee Panel, praised the Veterans Affairs appraisal staff as “some of the most accessible and responsive within the federal government relating to real estate appraisal issues.”

While opposing wholesale changes to overhaul the Fee Panel, the Appraisal Institute offered recommendations to improve the consistency of the VA loan program and to maintain its competitiveness with the private sector:

Maintain an independent Fee Panel of VA appraisers;
Develop a “stand-by” list of approved VA appraisers;
Enhance appraiser recruitment efforts;
Encourage lenders to provide better property information at the time of the appraisal assignment; and
Address appraiser concerns about unpaid appraisal fees.

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