The next phase of the government-sponsored enterprises’ Uniform Mortgage Data Program is upon us.

On Dec. 1 the deadline hit for all lenders to submit appraisals on mortgages destined for the GSEs — and to many other major investors — to the new Uniform Collateral Data Portal, or UCDP. But many smaller and mid-size lenders, those who least can afford closing delays, have not registered for or connected to the portal yet. They must.

Even if you don’t sell directly to the GSEs, your investors, and their investors, do. We’ve seen many major investors require a UCDP submission to guarantee the maximum marketability of the loan. UCDP compliance is a best practice, and it isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

It's important to know that the portal is free. Don't believe otherwise. Just like with any new regulation, there are companies trying to make a buck off compliance confusion. Lenders can avoid fees altogether, and they don’t need to get locked into any contracts. They can get information straight from the GSEs. Also, lenders should ask appraisers to clear all uniform appraisal dataset errors from their reports before they deliver them.

UAD is a standard the GSEs are requiring from appraisers and most major appraisal software packages have automated checks that can be run on the report before the appraisal is sent to the lender. If a lender's appraisals have UAD errors, the GSEs will reject the report, and the lender will have to waste time getting the appraiser to make changes. Though the process may seem daunting, registration and compliance is mandatory if lenders want to sell their loans now or in the future.

The best route for smaller and midsize lenders is to avoid unnecessary expenses and watch the UCDP experts to avoid costly mistakes.

Jennifer Miller is president of the Mortgage Solutions Division at a la mode.