Though lenders and appraisal management companies are not yet required to upload information through the web portal, it officially launched on Monday.
With the UCDP, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be significantly increasing the due diligence they do on loan files.
The current system is so vague that one appraiser can write "good" into a data field while another appraiser might write "brick" to describe the material of the house.
The 23 different permutations of the word "average" that are currently allowed will be condensed to six different alternatives available through a drop-down menu. Also, appraisers will now have to list the appraisal management company they work for, so that any potential issues can be more easily reviewed.
Appraisal report forms for all conventional mortgages delivered to the government-sponsored enterprises on or after March 19, 2012, must be submitted to the UCDP if the loan application is dated on or after December 1, 2011.
The portal, in combination with the new standards under the Uniform Appraisal Dataset, which becomes a requirement on September 1st, should should make it easier to spot problem loans before they get originated. The Uniform Appraisal Dataset defines all fields required for an appraisal submission for specific appraisal forms and standardizes definitions and responses for certain fields.
Federal Housing Finance Administration officials say the new system should reduce mortgage put-backs, which, in about 35% of cases, are related to faulty appraisals.
However, the appraisal management industry views the changes as a mixed blessing. "Fannie and Freddie have admitted that their process has failed," said Bill Garber, director of government and external relations at the Appraisal Institute, which is conducting seminars across the country to get appraisers up to speed with the new rules. "The fact that they are paying more attention to the appraisal is a good thing.
"But I think that the costs are going up," he added. "What is important is that it is not going to improve the appraisal process. What it is intended to do is to improve their analytics."