Mortgage lenders can make sure they’re complying with new rules governing appraisals on loans slated for purchase or guarantee by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac using a new Appraiser Panel Management product line from ServiceLink, the company says.

ServiceLink says its Appraiser Panel Management product line allows lenders to certify their compliance with the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, which goes into effect May 1, without abandoning relationships with appraisers they have developed over the years.

The new rules prohibit loan originators from ordering appraisals directly, requiring them to use other in-house staff or to go through an appraisal management company. Although the new rules are intended to prevent lenders from exerting pressure on appraisers, some appraisers have questioned their effectiveness, saying lenders own an interest in many appraisal management companies (see story).

ServiceLink says its Appraiser Panel Management (APM) product line allows lenders to to upload a panel of appraisers into VisionSM software that is managed and operated by ServiceLink. The software recognizes all required parameters, such as license type, state certifications, performance expectations, market experience, and product experience.

All appraisal management processes — including lender contact, borrower contact, appraiser contact, performance evaluation, transaction payment and quality control reviews — are performed by a lender-focused group within ServiceLink, the company said.

"The intent of our APM product is to provide lenders with an appraisal valuation solution that fully complies with the (new rules), while not forcing the lender to abandon the individual appraiser relationships that they have developed over years of trusted service," said Jeff Coury, president and CEO of ServiceLink, in a press release.

Coury said lenders that continue to manage appraisals using their own network of appraisers face additional risks and operating costs.

ServiceLink’s APM product line "provides for the active management of the lender’s appraisal panel, including reporting on metrics related to individual appraiser’s quality and service levels, while eliminating the lender’s administrative demands of appraisal underwriting, appraiser invoice payment and 1099 reporting," he said.

ServiceLink is an operating division of Fidelity National Title Group. In addition to providing origination and default services to lenders, ServiceLink is the national mortgage services platform for Fidelity National Financial companies.

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