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The Foundation Pleased Congress Requested GAO Study of Appraisal Exemptions


WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Appraisal Foundation is pleased that Congress announced it has requested the Government Accountability Office conduct a study pertaining to the 1989 law that set up appraisal regulations, Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA). That study, which will focus on federal practices that exempt many real estate transactions from appraisals, is a first step to help protect taxpayers and homebuyers.

The Appraisal Foundation is the nation's foremost authority on the valuation profession. The organization sets the Congressionally-authorized standards and qualifications for real estate appraisers, and provides voluntary guidance on recognized valuation methods and techniques for all valuation professionals, including personal property appraisers and business valuation. This work advances the profession by ensuring appraisals are independent, impartial, and objective. (PRNewsfoto/The Appraisal Foundation)

"Thirty years ago, Congress passed FIRREA to protect homeowners and the federal deposit insurance fund from the impacts of inaccurate and inflated property valuations," said David Bunton, president of The Appraisal Foundation. "Over the years, however, federal agencies have created loopholes that exempt 90 percent of residential real estate transactions from the appraisal requirement."

The study was requested by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Congressman William Lacy Clay, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. They have asked GAO to look into federal agencies' implementation of Title XI of the FIRREA.

"We applaud Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman William Lacy Clay for requesting the GAO study. Their leadership on this issue will help Congress determine whether the law is being implemented as intended and is effectively protecting homebuyers, taxpayers and the economy," he said.

In the letter requesting the study, Waters and Lacy asked GAO to address the four issues of threshold increases, regulatory exemptions, appraisal waivers and evaluations.  All four practices have resulted in a significant decrease in the number of transactions when appraisals are required. 

Exemptions occur when a federal financial regulatory agency carves out a category of transactions from FIRREA's appraisal requirements. For example, the de minimis threshold for residential real estate, which sets the transaction amount under which an appraisal is not required, has increased from $50,000 to as much as $400,000 since the law's enactment. 

The Appraisal Foundation has expressed concerns about the implementation of FIRREA to Congress on several occasions. Over the past year, Bunton has testified before Clay's subcommittee and followed up with two letters.

"The thirtieth anniversary of FIRREA provides a fitting backdrop for a comprehensive GAO study of the original intent of Congress in enacting Title XI versus the impact of Title XI today," said Bunton.

Media Contact:
David Greer
(202) 624-3048

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SOURCE The Appraisal Foundation

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