PHOENIX Three years after constructing a database aimed at standardizing the home appraisal process, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still finding serious flaws in many appraisals submitted by mortgage lenders.
In a sampling of appraisals, Fannie found that 17.6% of them had contradictory information, often about the condition or quality of the property, Robert Murphy, Fannie's director of collateral and single-family risk policy, told risk managers at conference here Wednesday. That's significant because those are the two most important factors in determining property values.
Inflated appraisals were a contributing factor to the housing meltdown because lenders often pressured appraisers to place artificially high values on properties. That, in turn, helped drive up home prices and led to the housing bubble.
Murphy's remarks followed similar comments from an official at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, who earlier in the day said that banks have been lax in their oversight of appraisers.
The Federal Housing Finance Administration, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, has estimated that about 35% of repurchases that require lenders to buy back a loan are related to faulty appraisals.
Murphy said that Fannie will provide guidance to lenders in October on how to reduce discrepancies in appraisals.
"We want accurate data and accurate property values," Murphy said. "For years, no one was looking at appraisals. But now we can see things. We want to make sure a property meets adequate appraisal requirements and that the appraisal accurately reflects market value."
In 2010, Fannie and Freddie Mac created the Uniform Mortgage Data Program to provide common requirements for appraisal and loan data. Mortgage lenders are required to submit information through an online portal so the government-sponsored enterprises can spot problem loans and reject them before they are originated.
The GSEs have been informing lenders of the defects in appraisals that need to be corrected, Murphy said.
"Just because a lender uses an appraisal management company, doesn't relieve them of responsibility as a lender selling to us," Murphy said. "At the end of the day, the lender is responsible."
He added that Fannie been active in reporting these defects to state appraisal boards that license and oversee appraisers.