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Lawmakers urged to stop appraiser coercion

Appraisers say state rules inconsistent, federal rules not enforced

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Unscrupulous lenders and mortgage brokers have "a totally free shot at the appraisal" because they are able to coerce appraisers in an "unregulated wilderness" where rules don't exist or aren't consistently enforced, a spokesman for appraisers told lawmakers this week. Alan E. Hummel, chairman of the Appraisal Institute's government relations committee, told members of a Senate subcommittee that such coercion, whether it's subtle or blatant, can have devastating impacts. "People have lost their homes to foreclosure; entire segments of the mortgage market have collapsed; and mortgage fraud has surged," Hummel told the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. "Neighborhoods throughout the country have been devastated by mortgage lending abuse." Sometimes, appraisers are told to doctor their reports or lose out on future assignments, Hummel said. Or they will be told to overlook material issues or conditions that would prevent an appraisal from hitting a predete...