Credit crisis puts pressure on appraisals

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The credit crisis profoundly affected the home loan business. Lenders' underwriters now scrutinize every aspect of the mortgage approval process, including the property appraisal. Most lenders now require that buyers make a down payment to ensure they have an equity stake in the property. Lenders are also concerned about declining property values. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guidelines, which set the standard for the appraisal industry, require that an appraiser use comparable sales that closed within the last six months. However, today most underwriters want appraisers to limit their comparable sales to those that closed within the last two to three months. Lenders' underwriters also ask appraisers to provide more information about the local home sale market than was the case a few years ago. They want information about comparable listings that are pending and those that are currently on the market. A pending sale is one where the seller has accepted an offer, but the sale ...