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HousingWire Magazine: December 2021/ January 2022

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Appraisals & ValuationsMortgage

VA hikes appraisal fees, turn-times in select markets

The agency said it was a response to "unprecedented demand" for appraisals

The Department of Veterans Affairs will raise appraisal fees and lengthen allowable turnaround times in select markets across the country in response to high demand for appraisals.

The cabinet-level federal agency, which backs mortgage loans for veterans, said the move was in response to “unprecedented demand for appraisal services” in some markets. The fee increases, which vary by state and county from as little as $25 in Minnesota to $400 in some areas of California, will take effect Dec. 1.

The VA said it had taken note of increased market demand in a “seller’s market,” in a notice explaining the increases.

“As a result, VA has increased appraisal fees and extended timeliness requirements in some markets facing a high demand for appraisal services,” the agency said. “These changes may not be permanent, and VA will continue to assess the market’s demand for appraisal services and will adjust appraisal fees and timeliness requirements accordingly.”

The VA designated markets as high-demand based on increased demand for appraisal services and a shortage of appraisers. The VA said the fee and timeliness increases will be reevaluated in the future and “may need to be readjusted.”

How do remote valuation solutions benefit appraisers?

To keep up with the high demand amid the ongoing pandemic, appraisers need a remote solution that keeps them in full control. 

Presented by: Incenter

Tom Trott, a branch manager at Embrace Home Loans, called the increases “extraordinary.”

“But they need to do it in order to help make the VA loan viable in rural areas,” said Trott.

In rural areas, longer travel times between appraisals, coupled with the more complicated reports demanded by the VA process, deter the few available VA-certified appraisers. With conventional financing, in contrast, the appraisal fee is entirely negotiable in different areas, Trott said. Conventional buyers who need an appraisal done quickly can pay a premium. 

The dynamic adds to the sometimes-founded perception that VA financing is more difficult, and frequently leaves VA borrowers at a disadvantage.

In the high-demand markets of Florida’s Franklin, Indian River, Jefferson, Suwannee and Walton counties, appraisal fees will increase to $750 from the current cap of $500, and turnaround times will increase to 10 business days. In the rest of the state, appraisal fees will increase to $650, and turnaround times remain unchanged at seven business days.

VA appraisers will be able to charge up to $1,000 in some high-demand counties in California, where VA appraisal fees are currently set at $600 statewide.

In Kern, Mariposa, Merced, Mapa, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta and Tehama counties, appraisal fees will increase to $750. In Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Colusa and Fresno, fees will rise to $800. In Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc and Plumas counties, appraisers will be allowed to charge $850, and in Del Norte county, $950.

The VA identified four high-demand counties in the northern and eastern parts of California — Alpine, Inyo, Mono and Siskiyou counties — where VA appraisals will fetch $1,000.

But nowhere in the country will VA appraisals be more costly than in Alaska. Single-family appraisal fees were previously set at $800 statewide, although some areas allowed for longer turnaround times. A VA appraisal in Anchorage will soon run $900, relatively cheaper than the staggering $1,300 it will cost to appraise a single-family home in the sparsely populated Valdez-Cordova census area, which lies to the east of Anchorage.

But in Valdez-Cordova, VA appraisers will have just 12 business days to complete those appraisals, down from the 21 business days currently allotted.

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