The Appraisal Institute is crying foul after regulators denied its requests to extend the comment period for the proposed appraisal threshold increase to $250,000 from $100,000, but appraisers are nonetheless optimistic that regulators will give them an opportunity to develop their comments through the holidays.

In separate letters from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision dated Dec. 2, regulators refused to extend the proposed rule's comment period. The OTS letter, signed by William P. Bowden, the agency's chief counsel, advised the institute to make every effort to submit its comments within the established period.

The comment period for the proposed rule closed Dec. 10. Regulators must review the comments and could have a final ruling as early as January or as late as spring. That process, however, may be just a formality. Many appraisers and bankers believe that the comment period process was necessary to provide regulators with a firm legal footing for the move.

Appraisers have been fighting the proposal that would raise the appraisal threshold for residential homes.

But they were also livid about what they considered a short 30-day comment period that regulators allowed for them to respond to a 400-plus page supplemental package it added to its original rulemaking record in November.

"The agencies granted our request to allow [our] people a comment period," said Don Kelly, vice president of the Appraisal Institute's Washington operations. But it's been difficult to go through the 400 pages of supplementary information and be able to draw succinct conclusions and get them in by Dec. 10."

Kelly said the agencies' denial might be just temporary and that regulators "could revisit the issue" by extending the comment period through the holiday, which would give the institute some extra time. Such a move, he said, "wouldn't hurt any of the parties involved."

"We're in the process of finalizing our statement," he said. "But we've seen nothing new [in the supplementary information] that could lead one to conclude that it is reasonable and safe to go to a $250,000 limit." Kelly also said the institute wanted to know why certain studies by government agencies, specifically reports from the Government Accounting Office, Office of Management and Budget and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council were "mysteriously not taken up." Those reports, he said, supported the institute's views.

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