The Appraisal Institute, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and other members of the real estate industry testified before a Congressional subcommittee on Capitol Hill this week in support of the role of appraisers in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loan Guaranty Program. Concerns raised during the hearing centered on the program’s lack of sufficient appraisal services.
“America’s veterans have been well-served for years by VA’s appraisal system, and professionals in the business should be proud of their good work,” said Michelle Bradley, immediate past chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee and a state-certified general real property appraiser from Pennsylvania, to the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Economy Opportunity.
“Unfortunately, that system is under tremendous pressure today,” Bradley said. “What we’ve found is that, among appraisers, there’s a real reluctance to work with the VA. Generally, appraisers are dissatisfied with the level of compensation they’re receiving for their work. It’s also harder than ever for trainees to enter the field, not just within the VA system but across the industry, which only adds to the perception of an appraiser shortage. This overall regulatory burden is a significant issue, and we have to turn things around.”
Bradley’s testimony reflected findings from a recent NAR survey, which called out inadequate compensation and training and the strain of compliance.
Stephen S. Wagner, vice president of the Appraisal Institute, called attention to the VA Appraiser Fee Panel, a pool of several thousand appraisers who work on a rotating basis on behalf of VA to provide collateral risk assessment.
“The Appraisal Institute supports the basic framework of the VA Fee Panel in contrast to what is currently found in the Federal Housing Administration or the private sector,” said Wagner, a former member of the Fee Panel, to the Subcommittee. “By comparison, the structure of the Fee Panel facilitates a greater degree of appraisal independence and represents a much more positive environment for real estate appraisers.”
Wagner and the Appraisal Institute recommended the VA maintain an independent Fee Panel, as well as create a standby list of approved appraisers and enhance appraiser recruitment efforts.
Eighteen percent of all recent homebuyers were veterans—more than half of which used a VA loan, according to NAR’s 2016 Veterans and Active Military Home Buyers and Sellers Profile.
“What we have today isn’t perfect, but it’s an important part of ensuring veterans and active service members are protected when using a VA home loan,” Bradley said. “NAR looks forward to working with the VA and Members of Congress to improve this system in the years to come.”
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