VA Appraisers Few and Far Between in Some Rural Areas

April 5, 2017

Michelle Bradley, past chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, said many appraisers would benefit from a better understanding of what the VA requires for its appraisals.

The VA home loan program is considered the gold standard for appraisal independence, but the system is coming under pressure because veterans often have to endure long delays in finding a VA appraiser, particularly in rural areas.

Michelle Bradley, past president of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, testified before a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee yesterday that delays often just stem from the physical remoteness of many rural areas.   

“If appraisers do not have the data to develop geographic competence in a market, they simply cannot take on [these rural] assignments,” Bradley said at the April 4 hearing.

Bradley cautioned the committee against harming the VA system’s high standards in a quest to attract more appraisers to the program.  “The standards do not need to be changed in my personal opinion,” she said.

What might be a better approach is having education programs more readily available to remove misconceptions many appraisers have about becoming a VA-approved appraiser. “Perhaps there are many appraisers who choose not to request an appointment into a VA-approved panel because of misinformation about overregulation,” she said.  “Appraisers who have never done VA [appraisals] before think, ‘I don’t know what a minimum property requirement is, so I’m too concerned to do it for liability purposes.’ If there was training, in conjunction with open enrollment to join the panel, I think that would take care of some concerns.”

At the hearing, lawmakers looked at whether additional use of automated valuation models, or at least data programs, could help speed up rural appraisals. Among other things, an appraiser who can tap a database rather than drive for hours to physically look at a comparable might help cut the time.

Lawmakers agreed that the more the VA and industry groups can do together to solve these problems, the less need for Congress to pass legislation that could take years to complete. More on the challenges facing the VA appraisal community.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News