Fidelity National Warns on Appraisal Rules
Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., which has been looking to spin-off its mortgage processing businesses, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday that proposed new rules governing the appraisal process, along with other industry regulation, could hurt its mortgage processing subsidiary. Fidelity National said that the new rules "could have adverse consequences that could affect our business," in outlining pending regulation as a key risk factor; the company singled out a discussion of the proposed appraisal rule changes in outlining some of the risks its business faces. The financial data processing giant has been seeking approval from federal regulators to take its mortgage processing unit, Lender Processing Services Inc., public later this year. The LPS unit accounted for nearly 10 percent of FIS' $4.8 billion in total revenue last year, and provides the technology platform -- known in the industry as MSP -- that is used to service more than 50 percent of the nation's mortgages. LPS also includes the company's default outsourcing businesses, spanning foreclosures, property preservation and asset management, as well as the company's transactional real estate business spanning title insurance operations. The appraisal business is set to undergo significant change, after a landmark settlement agreement was announced in early March that will see both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac likely eliminate broker-ordered appraisals and reduce the use of appraisals prepared in-house or through captive appraisal management companies in underwriting mortgages. It's worth noting, however, that despite the warning, Fidelity may stand to gain substantially from the new appraisal rules as well. Its LPS business unit operates one of the nation's largest independent appraisal operations, meaning it could see a huge uptick in business early next year when the new regulations go into effect. The company said it intends to comment on the proposed appraisal regulations before an April 30 deadline set by Fannie and Freddie. For more information, visit http://www.fnis.com.