Monday, September 6, 2010

TAVMA to FED: Please Delay Rule on "Customary and Reasonable Fee" -UPDATED

It was inevitable, but the plea from TAVMA's Executive Director, Jeff Schurman to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bemanke is remarkably lame and pitiful.

In an August 25, 2010 letter to the Federal Reserve Chairman, TAVMA begs the FRB to delay consideration of  the “customary and reasonable” fee provision that would be part of the proposed interim final rule required by Title XIV of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. As Appraiser Active described in a recent posts (HERE and HERE), The Federal Reserve has the chore of  translating the legislative language into interim rules that will govern how brokers, lenders, appraisers and appraisal management companies will operate. Final rules will be developed by the federal banking agencies.

TAVMA is concerned about this section of the Dodd-Frank Act:
....and goes on with this claim:
(1) In General.-Lenders and their agents shall compensate fee appraisers at a rate that is customary and reasonable for appraisal services performed in the market area of the property being appraised. Evidence for such fees may be established by objective third party information, such as government agency fee schedules, academic studies, and independent private sector surveys. Fee studies shall exclude assignments offered by known appraisal management companies.
At present it is unclear whether the “customary and reasonable” provision should be adopted in the 90 day interim final regulations. TAVMA believes that the effective date should be delayed under Title XIV Section 1400(c)(3) until after a formal rule making process. Additionally, we believe that the provision should not be adopted yet, because the “customary and reasonable fees” requirement is not an appraisal independence requirement. Further, the fee provision was added late in the Congressional Conference Committee process and never received any meaningful legislative discussion or clarification.
It's amusing to read TAVMA's claim that AMC compensation of appraisers is the "predominate fee model now in use." The only reason it may be is because of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. Appraisal Management Companies did not gain their share of the market by competition with appraisers; it was handed to them on a silver platter. TAVMA, your "predominate fee model now in use" is not market based, has no relationship to reality, and the new statutory requirement to ignore it in the determination of customary and reasonable for appraisal services is one of the few high points in the dismal legislation. Quit whining!

Of course, this bothers TAVMA and the 58 "appraisal transaction management companies" counted among its members. TAVMA says:
The wording of 129E(i) Appraisal independence requirements, “Customary and Reasonable Fees” seems to either ignore or outright reject FHA’s and HUD’s prior interpretation; however, it fails to provide any direction or guidance about what the term means and/or how it is to be calculated other than that fees negotiated with AMCs should be excluded from the determination, i.e., that market participants should ignore the predominate fee model now in use. It is unreasonable given this history and marketplace realities to expect the FRB to formulate a definition of “reasonable and customary fees” within the few weeks leading up to the October 20, 2010 effective date of the interim, final rule.
TAVMA's plea to Bernake becomes REALLY desperate with their offering of this reason for delay:
Appraiser Trainees. Fee parity (non-negotiated fees) will create a preponderance of “experienced appraisers,” which on one hand is good in that the most experienced appraisers will compete on quality and service for assignments; however, what will be the impact on appraiser-trainee development? Will appraisal firms have any motivation to train new appraisers, and will less experienced appraisers be able to compete for appraisal work if fees are not a factor?
Where was all this concern for appraiser-trainees in the past? How many appraiser readers of this post are willing to provide engagement letters or orders from TAVMA members with the wording "Trainee Appraisers cannot sign the appraisal", or word to that effect.
 
TAVMA, get off your knees and get with the program.

My fellow appraisers, it's time to fire up the letter writing machine and let Ben Bernake know what the real story is.

More on this subject, along with a slew of comments at Appraisal Scoop. Brian Davis has a particularly good one:
Maybe someone can explain to me why we need studies and surveys on customary and reasonable fees when appraisal fees have been reported for years on the HUD closing statements? I've always assumed that the information on the HUD form was collected and databased somewhere?

If this hasn't been done in the past . . .it could certainly be implemented NOW. The HUD form shows exactly what the borrower was CHARGED for the appraisal . . . right?
Well said, Brian. This aint brain surgery.

UPDATE - From several sources comes this tidbit:


The direct contact person at the Federal Reserve Board where you can send a letter to discuss your personal AMC and Customary and Reasonable Fee situations, or anything else having to do with appraiser independence. (Can include Stips and mandatory comparable requirements and mandatory Cost Approach).


Please do so in the next few days, as new appraisal regulations are being drafted now, with implementation set for October, or perhaps sooner.


Here is the contact information for the person at the Fed that is handling the Interim rulemaking on appraiser independence (including customary & reasonable fees):


Ms. Sandra Braunstein, Director
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Federal Reserve Board
1709 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006

I strongly suggest you provide your own letter in your own words, rather than rely on ‘template’ content from another source. Keep it short and to the point.

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