Appraiser Independence: What clients and Real Estate Agents Don't Understand
Minneapolis, MN: Real Estate Agents constantly call our mortgage office to ask if an Appraisal was ordered, or if it is completed yet.
The first question is pretty silly... Of course it was. The second question is tougher to answer until the completed appraisal physically shows up on the lenders desk.
Recent lender rules require what is known as "Appraiser Independence". This is a double down on the old rules that no one is allowed to influence or pressure the appraiser to obtain any pre-determined value on the home. The rules also means that no one who will be compensated on the file can have anything to do with picking the appraiser. It has to be totally blind and randomly assigned. This is very different from years past where the client or the Loan Officer could pick any appraiser they wanted.
Once the appraisal has been ordered, there are varying degrees of what the Loan Officer may or may not know about the status of the appraisal. Most mortgage companies use a middle company, known as an AMC, or Appraisal Management Company, to handle all aspects of the appraisal. This easily means the lender will meet the "independence" guidelines. Some AMC's are better than others in letting the lender know the status, giving them the expected date the appraiser will visit the property, and the expected appraisal completion date. With many others, the lender is completely in the blind. In the vast majority of cases, I don't even know who the appraiser is until the appraisal is completed.
To further complicate the issue, while it is technically possible for a Loan Officer to speak to an appraiser on a very limited number of questions, the vast majority of lenders completely forbid this contact to avoid even the remote likelihood of influence complicity. It is much easier to respond to regulators that "our loan officers are forbidden", then to claim they didn't do anything wrong.
As a mortgage lender, it is very frustrating when real estate agents constantly bombard me with appraisal questions. If I know, I will tell you. Do not yell at the Loan Officer if they don't know the answer or say they can not talk to the appraiser.