Following his appearance yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance to advocate passage of HR 2852, which would allow licensed appraisers to perform appraisals for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, Appraisal Institute President Stephen S. Wagner is expressing optimism that the legislation will find its way through a Congress which seems to become increasingly divided along party lines.
“We have positive thoughts on that,” said Wagner in an interview with National Mortgage Professional. “I don’t see where there’s much criticism with this, as it seems to be reasonably well accepted. We’ve not heard any resistance to it.”
HR 2852, also known as the Homebuyer Assistance Act of 2019, was introduced last month by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA). A companion bill, S. 1722: FHA Appraiser Eligibility Expansion Act, was introduced in the Senate earlier this month by Sen. John Thune (R-SD). If the bills pass, Wagner noted, it is because that congressional legislators are cognizant of the role that appraisers play in the real estate and mortgage industries and the issues that this industry faces within the federal regulatory regimen.
“I feel they are very concerned about what’s occurring right now,” he said, noting the challenges posed by automated valuation machines to the in-person appraisal process. “I think they appreciate what the appraiser does as opposed to what the machine does.”
The new bills are still in their early stages – a vote on HR 2852 by the House Financial Services Committee has yet to be scheduled and S. 1722 has yet to be considered by the Senate Banking Committee.
Wagner also raised concerns in his subcommittee appearance yesterday over recent proposed guidelines from the federal bank regulatory agencies have proposed to increase the residential appraisal threshold level from $250,000 to $400,000 National Credit Union Administration to increase the nonresidential appraisal threshold level from $250,000 to $1 million. He told the subcommittee that these proposals “would increase risk to safety and soundness of financial institutions and the health of the financial system.”
However, Wagner told National Mortgage Professional that the Appraisal Institute is still speaking with the regulators on their proposals.
“We regularly try to maintain open lines of communications with the agencies,” he said. “I anticipate that will be continuing moving forward.”