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Will the Home Valuation Code of Conduct Help or Hurt You?

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By : Andy Asbury    99 or more times read
On May 1, 2009 the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) was signed into law. This was originally intended to prevent real estate agents and mortgage brokers from influencing appraisers and thus home values. However, the lawsuit filed by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) on February 23, 2009 indicates that problems were seen with this Code even before it was officially established.

The NAMB alleges that the HVCC will “drastically reduce the ability of mortgage brokers to provide consumers with an efficient and cost-effective means of obtaining a mortgage”. The HVCC also prevents a mortgage broker from shopping for a better rate from another lender, since they would have to get a separate appraisal from each lender, costing extra money and time that a seller may not be inclined to give. In the case of a broker negotiating a deal with a lender for a particular interest percentage rate, the control over the appraisal is all in the lender's favor, putting the buyer at risk for paying more in interest than they originally planned to.

What critics of the HVCC are seeing is legislation that doesn't solve the problem of appraisal influence, but merely puts power into different hands. They are concerned that the HVCC may encourage appraisers to value a property below its true appraisal value. An appraiser who is on an approved list may value a home for less out of fear of being removed from said list. The monopoly by the lenders can make them force lower fees from appraisers, making them subject to the lenders' influence. They fear the lowest bidder will be chosen for appraisal purposes instead of a local business and that this will cause appraisal to be outsourced, taking money out of the local economy and causing local appraisers to drop out of the scene. The use of large appraisal companies could mean that a “faster, cheaper” method is encouraged over accuracy. This will negatively effect both buyer and seller - the buyer because faults that the home has may be overlooked and the seller because the home could be significantly undervalued.

For legislation that is supposed to prevent the coercion of agents, the HVCC seems to be arousing a lot of commentary, much of it negative. People are concerned over the limits the HVCC puts on appraisers and other real estate professionals alike when it comes to appraisal and the perceived advantage lenders have over the appraisal process. It should be interesting to see how home sales are affected by this in the months and years ahead.
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