[Update 1: Clarifies Matt Brannon’s remarks on Appraisal Firewall’s registered users] The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) continues to be a hot-button issue with many complexities and confusions. While appraisal management companies (AMCs) are seen as one way lenders can become HVCC compliant, a number of software products are also on the market as an alternative method to attain compliance. Software developers like SharperLending argue that the use of AMCs doesn’t necessarily provide HVCC compliance, and their products can integrate into lenders’ other automated loan application processes. “Lenders provide their own HVCC compliance. HVCC requires lenders to institute a number of additional compliance processes into their already-complex lending practices,” said Dave Black, president and CEO of Spokane, Wash.-based SharperLending, creators of the Appraisal Firewall software, in a statement. In the process of developing their software, SharperLending conducted an analysis of the HVCC to ensure their product provided compliance, but also took advantage of the nuances of the regulations. The software option also allows lenders to continue their long-standing relationships with appraisers, while maintaining compliance. The Web-based interface works like a social networking site where appraisers and lenders sign up for profiles. Lenders create an automatic rotation of appraisers, so when one is needed, the next suitable appraiser in the rotation is selected. Since the process is automated through the program, brokers can also register for the site and initiate the appraisal with their lender’s pool of appraisers, without coming into direct contact with the appraiser and with online pre-payment functions, while maintaining HVCC compliance, SharperLending spokesman Matt Brannon told HousingWire. Brannon added the software is set for an upgrade that will create new functions for digital delivery of appraisals to customers, with tracking features and record-keeping in case of an audit. There is no charge to register for the site, but Appraisal Firewall charges a transaction fee of 3% to 6% per appraisal, which can be paid by the lender or the appraiser. While the use of software doesn’t mean lenders can do away with a dedicated compliance officer, Brannon said SharperLending’s interpretation of the HVCC concluded that lenders are required to have an employee serving in some compliance role, even if they use an AMC. But it’s not apparent that the software option is catching on with lenders. One HousingWire source well-versed in the HVCC said he knew nothing of the available software options and that it wasn’t on his radar. Brannon said there are currently more than 10,000 registered users on Appraisal Firewall’s site, but only about 200 are lenders ordering and completing appraisals. Write to Austin Kilgore.
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