a la mode News

Mortgage XSites Websites Debut, Bringing More Leads, Faster Closings and Less Paper to Brokers

June 07, 2004

From the floor of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Annual Convention and Exposition here, a la mode, the nation's largest provider of software and technology to the people who power the mortgage transaction, debuted its Mortgage XSites websites for mortgage professionals.

HUD, Farm Service Agency appraisal requirements highlighted

June 02, 2004

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revised its Mortgagee Handbook 4000.2, Application through Insurance, including some changes to the chapter on Property Appraisal and Valuation. Note that this is not the long-awaited revision of HUD's single family appraisal handbook.

Drag on home price acceleration begins

June 02, 2004

Thirty-nine of 220 ranked Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) experienced home price contraction in the first quarter of 2004, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) reported this week.

Appraisers coping with higher fuel prices with fee increases, better itinerary planning

June 02, 2004

Last week, we asked you to share with your fellow appraisers how you're dealing with historically high gas prices. Twice as many of you wrote to say that you're increasing fees and/or adding long trip surcharges, than said you're not modifying your fee. But many of you are instead (or in some cases, also) paying extra attention to your field itineraries.

Federal court strikes blow for appraisers in Pennsylvania

May 25, 2004

The Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials (AARO) last week made available on its web site an opinion of the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the case of Fidelity National Information Solutions, Inc. (FNIS) et al. v. Sinclair. As the link makes the rounds on Internet message boards, e-mail lists and the occasional news report, it is consistently being introduced as a defeat for state-level appraiser regulation and a victory for appraisal alternatives, like Broker Price Opinions (BPOs) and Competitive Market Analyses (CMAs) performed by real estate agents, Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) and other non-appraiser valuations. In truth, the opinion is a landmark victory for the Pennsylvania Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers (Board) and appraisers everywhere.

Appraisers’ side deserves equal time in AVM debate

May 18, 2004

Another valuation-themed e-mail newsletter, perhaps your second favorite, last week devoted its entire space to a defense of AVMs (automated valuation models) by the Collateral Assessment and Technologies Committee of the Real Estate Information Professionals Association (REIPA). The committee consists of the nation's largest AVM developers, including AVMax, Basis100, Countrywide, DataQuick, Fidelity National Financial, First American RES, Fiserv CSW, Real Info, Inc., TransUnion Settlement Solutions, and Veros Software. As confident as we are that the newsletter will quickly devote equal space to the appraiser's side of the argument, it's important to address some squirrelly contentions and outright falsehoods the AVM lobby presented.

Removing Owner’s Estimate of Value not a slam dunk, readers say

May 18, 2004

Last week we passed along (and mildly endorsed) a suggestion we'd received from several readers: that eliminating the Owner's Estimate of Value from appraisal forms would decrease mortgage fraud. This simple suggestion drew a lot of feedback.

“Reversing” how you work with lenders

May 11, 2004

Reverse mortgages are becoming increasingly popular with American homeowners 62 or older. The FHA calls them Home Equity Conversion Loans (HECMs), because they provide older Americans a monthly payment secured by the equity in their home. Essentially, instead of paying the lender each month, the lender pays the homeowner.

On the good guys’ side in the AVM debate

May 11, 2004

Three weeks ago we told you about Fitch Ratings, an investment risk assessment firm, deciding to discount the value of residential mortgage backed securities in soft or weak markets where anything less than a full appraisal was used to value the collateral. The move has generated quite a bit of publicity for the appraisers vs. AVMs debate, some of which we noted last week.

a la mode Announces Orlando, Florida Regional Sales and Training Office

May 06, 2004

la mode, inc., the largest provider of software and technology to the real estate appraisal profession, announced today that it has begun construction of its first regional sales and training office in Orlando, Florida. The company indicated that the 5,000 square foot facility should be open in early September.