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PhotoHow do appraisers know how much the property you want to buy is worth?

Thanks to a new rule adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) you'll soon be able to find out.

The rule requires mortgage lenders to provide applicants with free copies of all appraisals and other home-value estimates. The rule will ensure that consumers can receive information prior to closing about how the property’s value was determined.

“This rule will guarantee consumers can receive important information on how a lender determines the value of the home,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Having this information available promptly makes it easier for loan applicants to make informed decisions.”

Information for your money

Appraisals and other estimates of a home’s value are generally used by mortgage lenders to inform their decisions. Consumers are typically charged for the costs related to conducting an appraisal; however, currently the law does not require that consumers receive a copy of the appraisal unless they request it and does not require that consumers receive a copy of any other estimates of the home’s value.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires that lenders give consumers a copy of each appraisal or other estimate free of charge although a lender generally may still charge the consumer a reasonable fee for the cost of conducting the appraisal or other estimate. The new rule implements these requirements.

The rule also requires that creditors inform consumers within three days of receiving an application for a loan of their right to receive copy of all appraisals. Creditors will then be required to provide the copies of appraisal reports and other written home-value estimates to consumers promptly, or three days before closing, whichever is earlier.

The new rule will go into effect in January 2014 and will apply to first-lien mortgages.

Higher-priced mortgages

Separately, six federal financial regulatory agencies have issued the final rule that establishes new appraisal requirements for “higher-priced mortgage loans.”

The rule implements amendments to the Truth in Lending Act made by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). Under the Dodd-Frank Act, mortgage loans are higher-priced if they are secured by a consumer's home and have interest rates above certain thresholds.

For higher-priced mortgage loans, the rule requires creditors to use a licensed or certified appraiser who prepares a written appraisal report based on a physical inspection of the interior of the property. The rule also requires creditors to disclose to applicants information about the purpose of the appraisal and provide consumers with a free copy of any appraisal report.

If the seller acquired the property for a lower price during the prior six months and the price difference exceeds certain thresholds, creditors will have to obtain a second appraisal at no cost to the consumer. This requirement for higher-priced home-purchase mortgage loans is intended to address fraudulent property flipping by seeking to ensure that the value of the property legitimately increased.

Exemptions

The rule exempts several types of loans, such as qualified mortgages, temporary bridge loans and construction loans, loans for new manufactured homes, and loans for mobile homes, trailers and boats that are dwellings. It also has exemptions from the second appraisal requirement to facilitate loans in rural areas and other transactions.

The rule is being issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  


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