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Group: Don’t Blame Appraisers for Housing Conditions

Enough is enough, the ""Appraisal Institute"":http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/ said Tuesday, defending the role of appraisers in a statement and two separate guidelines.

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The trade group came out swinging on behalf of appraisers and appraisal management companies, arguing their independence and professionalism in a down market that consistently sees analysts, Realtors, and bankers on the offensive.

""The fact is that appraisers are undertaking the same thorough research and thoughtful analysis that they always have in order to continue producing reliable, credible opinions of value,"" ""Sara Stephens"":http://www.realtor.org/, president of the Appraisal Institute, said in the statement.

Her message for Realtors, homebuilders, and anyone reading: ""Don't shoot the messenger.""

The statements and guidelines pointed to appraisers as independent observers hard at work for lenders, not buyers or

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sellers, reaffirming their sense of judgment, market analysis, and roles in the housing industry.

""Qualified, competent appraisers are capable of using their experience and education to determine when ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and how ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô to use distressed sales as comparables,"" she added.

One of the guidelines took pains to clarify that lenders, buyers, and sellers should not assign bad grades to appraisals with values that fail to meet expectations or assume that higher-than-expected values assure ""correctness"" or quality.

The Appraisal Institute stood up for appraisers at a time when many continue to publicly criticize their roles in scuttled home sales, purchases, and mortgage applications.

In past interviews, Walter Molony, a spokesperson for the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/, attributed declines in existing-home sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô those sales that still need closing ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô to low-balling appraisals.

He said last fall that existing-home sales could push anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent higher, if not for the appraisals.

GSEs ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ reopened the debate in early September when the two jointly ""released"":https://themreport.com/articles/new-appraisal-standards-worry-industry-insiders-2011-09-01 new appraisal standards to streamline the process, replacing sometimes discretionary appraisal criteria with alpha-numeric and abbreviations.

For its part, the ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ recently ""published"":https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-unveils-mortgage-examination-procedures-2012-01-12 mortgage origination examination procedures that task regulators with making sure that appraisers stay independent of originators.

Stephens cited a ""firewall"" that exists between the two professional fields in a supporting document.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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