Company Touts "No Influence" Appraisal Guarantee
It was only a matter of time, in our eyes, until an enterprising appraisal management company decided to warrant its appraisers' work as free from outside influence. That company? Indianapolis-based StreetLinks National Appraisal Services, which said Thursday that it would offer a "Certificate of Non-Influence," warranting the objectivity of real estate appraisals procured on behalf of its clients. (With all deference to StreetLinks, we can't help but think here of a well-known scene from the 1995 Chris Farley comedy Tommy Boy here, involving guarantees.) In all seriousness, however, charges that appraisers have been pressured to hit target values on their appraisals are one facet of the real estate crisis, and the motivation behind a pending Home Valuation Code of Conduct involving the GSEs and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The HVCC is set to go into effect January 1, 2009. "Given the widespread concern over the role that appraiser coercion may have played in the current mortgage-market turmoil, our Certificate of Non-Influence assures every stakeholder in the mortgage loan that our valuation was derived according to the strictest standards of objectivity without influence to inflate the appraised value," said Steve Haslam, CEO at StreetLinks. "The value of a certified non-influence process will be evidenced in enhanced loan performance." The guarantee is the company's effort to show lenders, investors, and Wall Street that the accompanying real estate appraisal was obtained via an independent process. Specifically, StreetLinks said it will guarantee that the real estate appraiser remains anonymous from those in the process who historically could attempt to sway the appraiser's objective valuation. To further ensure against fraud and manipulation, the original StreetLinks appraisal report and accompanying Certificate of Non-Influence is made available through its own secure website repository to all authorized successors and assignees of the original lender and client, the company said. For more information, visit http://www.streetlinks.com.