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Home appraisal’s ugly history and uncertain future

This is Part I of a deep dive into the home appraisal industry. Today we explore the origins of the appraisal industry and its current lack of diversity.

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Politics & Money

A look back: HW’s Top Stories of 2009

The end of the year is upon us — and what a year it’s been! Here’s a look at the top 5 most-read stories from HW this year. A Game of Credit Cost Smoke and Mirrors at Wells Fargo? Paul Jackson, April 9, 2009 This story about potential lurking credit costs at WFC caught the collective imagination of both investors and the industry alike, and genereated heated debates about how banks reserve for credit losses. With the U.S. housing stock engaging in what John Mauldin has taken to calling “the Statistical Recovery” not too long after this story was published, much of the buzz around credit losses has since petered out. The Nation’s 20 Worst Housing Markets Paul Jackson and Kelly Curran, January 20, 2009 Sure, it’s from January, which shouldn’t surprise in any “most read of the year” list. But this story was an HW exclusive, and at the time was our way of interpreting how negative equity would affect local housing markets — well before the idea of negative equity affecting borrower defaults had grabbed the collective imagination of the mainstream press. Kellerman: the Scapegoat of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? April 23, 2009 It was earlier this year that acting CFO at Freddie Mac, David Kellerman, was found dead of an alleged suicide. This piece was contributed by an industry veteran, who wished to remain anonymous given the crush of press coverage surrounding Kellerman’s death at the time. The viewpoint it provides generated a ton of response both within and outside of the industry. (Our best wishes continue to go out to Kellerman’s family.) Lend America Mortgage Fraud, 20 Years in the Making? Austin Kilgore, October 26, 2009 HW’s in-depth look at alleged improprieties at New York-based lender Lend America proved prescient, as the company was shut down roughly one month later. While other media outlets had reported on HUD’s actions against the firm, HW reporter Austin Kilgore combed the entire 155-page document to paint a picture of alleged fraud spanning nearly two decades. Treasury to Announce New Program to Avoid Foreclosure Jacob Gaffney, October 12, 2009 HW broke the news on the government’s latest foreclosure rescue plan, called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA). The program is designed to boost short sales, and became national news a few weeks later after we broke this story. Other notables from 2009: Tranche Warfare: MBS Investor Sues American Home Over REO Sales Teri Buhl, March 6, 2009 HW broke the story of a battle between Wilbur Ross-owned American Home Mortgage and Carrington Capital; this was the first of two stories on the matter, as American Home shortly thereafter countersued Carrington. If you’ve wanted to see what goes on “in the tranches” between servicers and investors, this story provides unique insight. Amherst Sees 7m Foreclosures Poised to Distress House Prices Diana Golobay, September 24, 2009 This story nearly made it into our top 5, and would have if there were a few more days in the year. Amherst’s Laurie Goodman has been the mortgage analyst of the last decade, and her pronouncement that HAMP would ultimately do little to stanch a flow of distressed properties certainly generated plenty of heat. Of course, there were plenty of other big stories throughout the course of this year, including an HW exclusive that suggested problems in the FHLB system before those problems became front-page financial news, as well as our exclusive scoop on IBM’s decision to enter the mortgage servicing business. And there’s my personal favorites, too — which include a take-down of the New York Times’ attempt to make the REO industry into villians, as well as a rebuttal of an inaccurate press report over at Dow Jones. And, let’s not forget the mammoth contributions we’ve received from the inimitable Linda Lowell this year, as well. 2009 has been a year to remember, but we’re already looking ahead to 2010. What new trends will emerge next year? Stay tuned. Paul Jackson is the publisher of HousingWire.com and HousingWire Magazine.

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