a la mode releases inaugural national Appraisal Fee Reference for FHA and RESPA compliance

Oklahoma City, OK —  a la mode, inc., the dominant provider of appraisal-related technology and services to the mortgage industry, today released the first public edition of The Appraisal Fee Reference™.  The AFR™ is the authoritative national analysis of independent appraisal fees, and is just one of the monthly data sets published as part of a la mode's Appraisal Industry Analytics™ practice.  

Using the data from hundreds of thousands of verified and validated appraisals, the AFR reports the median appraisal fees for each of the 3,221 counties and districts in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  

The timing of the release is critical, since 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.  Only by using the AFR can a lender or appraiser objectively determine what is a 'customary' fee, and decide whether the appraiser is being offered less than that by an AMC. Appraisers and the National Association of Realtors have complained loudly about the issue in recent months, which appears to have prompted the issuance of the new mortgagee rules by FHA.

For compliance with HUD's new 2010 RESPA rules and the revised Good Faith Estimate, the AFR gives a lender a defensible basis for estimating closing costs on a GFE for loans using independent fee appraisers.  Lenders utilizing the Mercury Network (http://www.mercuryvmp.com) also receive additional data sets for GFE compliance.

"Of course," noted Dave Biggers, a la mode's chairman, "Knowing what's customary or commonly expected is only the first step.  As in any business, only the person performing the actual work would be able to say what is reasonable or required for a specific request.  In real estate that's especially true since every property is different.  The key is that the AFR provides lenders and appraisers alike a logical, legally defensible starting point for that fee discussion and for GFE estimation."

As for the actual report, the February 2010 edition of the AFR reveals several interesting fee statistics.  For example, the most expensive counties to get an appraisal were not in the major cities.  Instead, the 50 most expensive locations were dominated by 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.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, the East North Central census division, comprising Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, ranked at the very bottom of the nine divisions nationally, with a median fee of $300.  The Pacific division was most healthy overall for appraisers, with a median of $400.

When looking at the larger census regions, the West and South fared best for appraisers with median fees of $375 and $350, respectively.  The Midwest and Northeast did more poorly, with both showing medians of $325.  

Nationwide, the median observed appraisal fee was $350, with an average of $351.

For more information, visit www.mercuryvmp.com/analytics.

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About the Appraisal Fee Reference™ 

The Appraisal Fee Reference™, or AFR™, is the authoritative guide to median and average fees observed between clients and independent fee appraisers for a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report, or URAR.  It provides statistical data on hundreds of thousands of URAR transactions at the national, regional, and state levels, covering all 3,221 counties and local administrative districts in the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The AFR is one of the monthly data sets published by a la mode's Mercury Network vendor management division as part of its Appraisal Industry Analytics™ practice.  Mercury Network is widely used by lenders to manage the appraisal process in compliance with applicable regulatory guidelines.  

The transactions between lender clients and tens of thousands of appraisers using Mercury Network’s technology backbone form the basis of the AFR data.  It excludes reports ordered by known appraisal management companies, or AMCs, in order to determine the customary fees paid to independent fee appraisers when they are engaged directly, without middlemen.  

AFR transactions cover the preceding twelve months, up to the end of the month immediately prior to publication.  It is actual observed data, not an industry survey of perceived fees.  Each transaction is extensively validated and verified before inclusion.

The AFR is useful to appraisers, lenders, AMCs, Realtors, and regulators in a variety of business planning and compliance functions.  It provides a defensible basis for compliance with FHA rules regarding customary fees, and also is useful in predicting closing costs for the HUD 2010 GFE when appraisers are engaged directly by the lender.

For more information regarding the AFR, visit the Mercury Network website at http://www.mercuryvmp.com.

About a la mode

Founded in 1985, a la mode develops desktop, mobile, and Web tools for the real estate and mortgage industries.  As a dominant player in the market, its mission-critical products are used by hundreds of thousands of appraisers, agents, brokers, inspectors, and lending professionals in some form in the completion of roughly 50% of the nation’s daily real estate transactions.  a la mode’s state-of-the-art offices are located in Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, and Washington, DC.  For more information, visit www.alamode.com.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners. 

Press Contact:
Leonard Acquaye
Analytics Product Manager, a la mode, inc.
(800) 252-6633

Sales Contact:
Chis Sullivan
VP, Mercury Network Sales, a la mode, inc.
(800) 252-6633