Monday, August 24, 2009

REALTOR Mag - The Trouble With the HVCC

Here is the long awaited REALTOR® Magazine article about the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), HAVOC. Blanche Evans, Stacy Moncrieff and I spent quite a bit of time discussing the issue, including the initial investigation, the companies under investigation, appraisal practices, appraisal standards, enforcement and the effects of the HAVOC on the appraisal profession and real estate markets. In an effort make sure all points of view were represented, I furnished names and contact information for several parties in favor of the agreement, including several folks involved with Appraisal Management Companies (AMC).

Not only did Blanche and Stacy collaborate to produce a balanced and informative article, the story includes the best HVCC/HAVOC graphic encountered by Appraiser Active. We might just award a gold star or seal for that one.

It's appropriate for the article, "The Trouble With the HVCC" to start with a quip from Jonathan Miller:

"You can't make this up," New York appraiser Jonathan Miller riffed in his entertaining blog, Matrix, back in June.

Miller was recounting the frustration of a real estate salesperson who was trying to refinance her own New York apartment with her current lender. According to Miller's telling, the out-of-town appraiser walked into the apartment, threw his hands in the air, and asked "How am I supposed to appraise this thing?"
Of course, the favorite quote is from yours truly:

"The HVCC sets up AMCs as the guardians of appraiser independence, and isn't it ironic that the investigation that prompted the rules centered on an AMC allegedly manipulating the system to please its customer?"
Later in the article comes this gem:

For the largest lenders, AMCs are simply the way business is done today. "When you're ordering thousands of appraisals every single day, the risk to you is extraordinary," says Jeff Schurman, executive director of the Title/Appraisal Vendor Management Association in Pittsburgh, which represents a variety of settlement service vendors, including large AMCs. "Would it make sense to hand those off to thousands of [independent] appraisers?"
To which Appraiser Active responds: "Yes, it makes sense to "hand off" those to thousands of [independent] appraisers. Unlike Appraisal Management Companies, the appraisers are licensed and certified by an agency of government and subject national standards; recognized by every state and territory of the United States. What appraisal standards must the Appraisal Management Companies follow?" Which agency of government regulates their involvement in brokering valuation services?

There's much more. Read the whole thing right HERE.
UPDATE: Jonathan Miller provides his take on MATRIX.