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[Sounding Bored] Lessons From Cuomo: Don’t Dust Off (Or Add) Regulations, Build A Wall

Sounding Bored is my semi-regular column on the state of the appraisal profession. This week go apolitical (briefly) about the lack of understanding over what appraisers are supposed to do.

Well, not literally.

I heard Andrew Cuomo speak many years ago at an Appraisal Institute chapter meeting in New York 10-15 years ago where he was discussing his innovative HELP Homes project, a nonprofit development company, Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged [1] where he built subsidized housing and had met with great success. His father was governor and Andrew had an impressive presence. I thought to myself, this guy is going places – he’s sharp. This was confirmed when he was appointed Assistant, then Secretary at HUD.

But it would seem to be all downhill after that. Here’s the perspective of conservatives [2] which is not too flattering.

While he was in office, he created the Appraiser Watch Initiative [3] which tied mortgage defaults to appraisers, as if appraisers were responsible for whether a borrower makes their mortgage payment or not. While I understand what he was trying to accomplish, (getting rid of appraisers in collusion with property owners and developers), the reality is that appraisers do not look at the credit history of the borrower as part of their valuation expertise. The initiative angered many in the appraisal profession. The disconnect between reality and government in this example was no less than amazing.

At the same time, HUD seemed to be trying to make appraisers into home inspectors. [4]. Even more amazing.

Fast forward

Cuomo was the keynote speaker at a recent appraisal convention and seemed to say all the right things. [5] There is a certain irony here.

I remember ranting about this HUD stuff to quite a few of my colleagues at the time as a typical example of the disconnect that exists between the purpose of the appraisal function and the constraints appraisers have to work within.

Cuomo’s handling of HUD as it relates to appraisers and the rampant fraud that came with the lack of oversight on his watch has become a campaign issue in the New York’s governor’s race. The article Integrity and Reforms v Fiasco and Embarrassment [NYO] [6] summarizes the politcal battle nicely.

Its reminds me of the advent of appraiser licensing. It was a noble attempt to clean up the profession but a dismal failure. Everyone wants to control and regulate the appraiser.

Controlling appraisers doesn’t solve the fundamental problem.

You need to protect appraisers from the lending industry they work for and depend on. Create a wall of independence so the public is protected, by keeping the appraiser’s judgement influenced by being pressured to survive.

If you don’t keep the appraisal process pure and keep the pressure away from the appraiser, they are unable to deliver an unbiased report. Its against human nature.

The good appraisers are disappearing fast and there’s no way to regulate that.