WASHINGTON -- A federal proposal to make home appraisers more independent of financial institutions would do harm more than good and increase costs for consumers, according to officials of the two leading credit union trade associations.
A requirement to ban persons involved in the financial institution's lending activities from doing home appraisals would badly hurt smaller credit unions, according to NAFCU Senior Vice President of Government Affairs B. Dan Berger.
The provision would require those credit unions to "incur significant costs that they must in turn pass on to borrowers," Berger wrote Freddie Mac.
CUNA took a slightly different tack and in its letter to Fannie Mae urged the agency to include a provision providing exceptions for lenders with assets of $250 million or less.
Berger expressed concern that that the proposed requirements that credit unions select, retain and provide all compensation to appraisers "place undue burden on credit unions and are cost prohibitive." He said existing rules, such as requiring that lenders use only appraisals from licensed appraisers, are sufficient to ensure appraiser independendence.
The proposed rules changes were developed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as a result of an agreement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo following his investigation of appraisal fraud. Though both of the government-sponsored mortgage investors denied wrongdoing, they signed an agreement with Cuomo to overhaul their appraisal practices.
CUNA and NAFCU objected to a proposal to require credit unions to establish a hotline and e-mail address to receive complaints about the appraisal process.
Both said it duplicates a requirement being imposed on the Valuation Protection Institute, an oversight agency that will be funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
CUNA also called for the rules to take effect on loans issued on or after Jan. 1, 2010, a year after the proposed effective date of Jan. 1, 2009.
CUNA Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Mary Mitchell Dunn said the proposed regulations are a costly overreaction to the recent difficulties experienced by some homeowners.
"Because credit unions are not-for-profit, the costs are passed on to borrowers. They will be paying for these rules, which are an attempt by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to deflect some of the heat they have taken for not having done enough to protect consumers," she said.
The public comment period on the regulations ended on April 30, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said they plan to issue final regulations this summer.