As a result of your efforts and our Washington team, we are making progress explaining to Congress the negative impact the current version of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) will have on consumers and independent appraisers. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) has heard our message loud and clear: The HVCC needs to be fixed to create a level playing field. The magnitude of the issue means that we have to press on and make sure we get a fair hearing and amend the HVCC.
Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on June 5th, submitted written questions about the HVCC to all of the regulators asking them to respond in writing for the hearing record. She has also asked the Federal Reserve to conduct a legal analysis of the current version of the HVCC and any obvious or potential conflicts with federal banking law.
Here’s an update of what we can expect in the coming weeks:
Much of the relevant activity is expected in the Senate, which may work on the “Federal Housing Financing Regulatory Reform Act of 2008”, as reported by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, before its recess at the end of June. We believe there may be an opportunity to address the problems with the HVCC through this piece of legislation.
Senator Dole intends to offer an amendment to the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008 when it reaches the floor of the Senate for a vote. The amendment would require the director of OFHEO to issue a regulation, through a formal rulemaking process, that would establish a common set of appraisal standards governing mortgage lenders, consistent with federal law, guidelines and the concepts underlying the HVCC. This regulation would supersede the requirements of the HVCC. There is no scheduled date for when the housing bill will make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. The Senate leadership hopes to have the bill completed before the July 4th recess, but that may be an unrealistic deadline.
It was reported in the Washington Post on June 7th that Senate and House leaders are taking the unusual step of negotiating a final bill to address the nation’s housing crisis even before the Senate adopts its own version, trying to short-circuit a legislative process that might otherwise drag well into the summer. Senior lawmakers are meeting behind closed doors to draft what they hope will be a measure to help homeowners facing foreclosure and to create a strong new regulator to oversee the mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to the report, talks began during the week of June 2nd after the measure’s advocates decided they would not wait for action by the full Senate, where parliamentary procedures and the process for amending bills could stall the legislation. Instead, lawmakers aim to resolve the outstanding differences between the two bills already approved by the House and the Senate Banking Committee, and then bring the compromise measure up for a final vote in the two chambers.
You should meet with your Senators and Representatives during the July 4th Congressional Recess to take action on the HVCC. You can help encourage support for the Dole amendment by scheduling meetings or writing to your members of Congress. For Senators, request that they support the Dole amendment to the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008 (no bill number yet), when it reaches the floor.
You should also explain to members of the House of Representatives that Senator Dole is trying to include language in the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008 in the Senate and that members of the House should work to ensure that language is included in any final housing legislation that is adopted by Congress and sent to the President. You can find a copy of the HVCC issue brief and a draft of the Dole amendment to give to your members of Congress at www.alamode.com/action.