Mortgage industry software developer a la mode Inc. has begun publishing a monthly Appraisal Fee Reference report that the company claims is "the authoritative national analysis of independent appraisal fees."

The Appraisal Fee Reference report relies on data from hundreds of thousands of actual appraisals to report the median appraisal fees for each of the 3,221 counties and districts in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, a la mode said.

FHA’s recently implemented guidelines require that participating lenders ensure that appraisers are paid "reasonable and customary" fees, independent of what may be added on by appraisal management companies, or AMCs. Implementation of the new FHA appraisal guidelines, originally scheduled for Jan. 1, was pushed back to Feb. 15.

The report will allow lenders or appraisers to objectively determine what is a "customary" fee, and decide whether the appraiser is being offered less than that by an AMC, a la mode said.

The report will also assist lenders in complying with new rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that restrict changes to estimated loan origination and settlement services charges, a la mode said.

According to the February report, the median appraisal fee in the last 12 months was $350.

The Pacific census division had the highest fees among the nine Census divisions, with a median of $400. The East North Central census division, comprising Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, had the lowest fees, with a median of $300.

Median fees in the West and South census divisions were $375 and $350, respectively, and $325 in both the Midwest and Northeast divisions.

At the county level, the 50 most expensive locations were dominated not by major cities, but rural counties in Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming.

Of the locations with the lowest fees, appraisers in Ohio were represented disproportionately, with 18 of the bottom 50 slots being taken by counties in the state. Four nearby states — Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois and Wisconsin — also had three to four counties each in the bottom 50.


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