Thursday, August 11, 2011

NAR Encourages Bar of AMC Indemnification Clauses - UPDATED

UPDATED - August 15, 2011

In a letter to the heads of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, Veteran's Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, NAR President, Ron Phipps, encourages the bar of indemnification clauses used by Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs).

Appraiser Active last mentioned indemnification clauses in a post about the LandSafe Appraisal Services Agreement. The folks over at the Appraiser Law Blog have written extensively about the danger to appraisers stemming from agreeing to indemnification.

A pdf of the full NAR letter is posted after the jump, but here's a preview:

Appraisers provide an independent and impartial analysis of the market, and acredible opinion of the value of real property. This analysis is a critical component of the mortgage transaction and, in recent months, has become thesubject of unnecessary pressure. The mounting use of indemnification clauses by AMCs may be interfering with the appraiser’s independence and objectivity. In many cases, appraisers are asked to sign contracts that include language to indemnify and hold harmless the AMC against any suit, threat, or claim on any work product or service provided as part of the contract agreement. In some instances, the appraiser is even required to indemnify the lender and the AMC for amounts equal to their costs in repurchasing a mortgage loan, regardless of any proof of culpability on the part of the appraiser.
Let's see if these government agencies respond to the challenge.

UPDATE - August 15, 2011: The Appraiser Law Blog has a review of the LSI Appraisal Independent Contractor Agreement. Here's an excerpt.

"LSI’s agreement itself is only three pages and does not contain many of the unreasonable provisions found in other AMC contractor agreements. However, like most AMC agreements, it does contain an indemnification provision. While the indemnification clause is not as extreme as found in some other AMC agreements, the provision in LSI’s agreement is still. . ."

"Also, we do have concerns stemming from the FDIC’s civil complaint for negligence and breach contract against LSI Appraisal relating to appraisals performed for WaMu in 2006-2008. The FDIC has specifically alleged in that case that appraisals supplied by LSI from approximately 200 of its panel appraisers were deficient and has suggested that many additional appraisals beyond the ones specifically identified may become part of the lawsuit. We will update our appraisers here on if we begin to see LSI attempt to shift liability to individual appraisers in that case."

Letter to Regulators on AMC Indemnification Clauses