CURRENT NEWS


April 8, 2020 10:59 am

Based on Fannie Mae’s Updated FAQ that was released today, it is not okay for appraisers to replace an interior inspection with a virtual inspection for full appraisal products. While we will continue to advocate for secured homeowner-guided inspection tools that help minimize the potential for fraud, Fannie Mae’s current policy is:


Q57. For mortgages that require interior and exterior inspection appraisals, would the use of technology like Skype, FaceTime, etc. be sufficient to meet the requirement for an appraiser’s physical inspection?


No. The Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (Form 1004) (along with the 1073, 1004c, 1025, and 2090) require the appraiser to certify, “I performed a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior areas of the subject property.” Virtual inspections are insufficient to comply with our Form 1004 and other interior/exterior appraisal form requirements.

Appraisers are free to voluntarily deploy this technology as a means of augmenting the exterior-only (in combination with a drive by inspection from the street) and/or desktop appraisal flexibilities we announced for COVID-19. Appraisers must describe these as either “desktop” or “exterior”, as the case may be.”


March 27, 2020 1:51 pm

FHA updated it's requirements to follow Fannie and Freddie's lead on relaxing appraisal requirements on interior inspections.  Check out the updated Q&A released on March 27th and the temporary form conversions below:
fha

March 25, 2020 1:30 pm

To provide clarity around the new appraisal flexibilities, Fannie Mae issued an FAQ to address photos, forms, scope, reps & warranties, and more.  Check out Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions for details.


March 24, 2020 9:30 am 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide alternative flexibilities to satisfy appraisal requirements from March 23, 2020 through May 17, 2020.  In accordance with those guidelines, Apex has implemented the following protocols for placing conventional appraisal assignments during that time-frame:

  • When feasible, all full appraisal products will be assigned and completed with an interior inspection. 
  • When an interior inspection is not feasible—including in some states and counties with legal orders or Shelter in Place mandates—Apex will ask if the order can be converted to a desktop appraisal (or alternate product) with modified appraisal report language for the scope of work, statement of assumptions and limiting conditions, and certifications.  Eligibility will be based on temporary Fannie Mae Appraisal Requirements which includes the following loan matrix:

fannymae

  • It is up to individual lending partners whether an order can be converted. Please consult with your Appraisal Desk, Lead Underwriter, or follow your company’s internal procedures to determine eligibility. 

 PLEASE NOTE:  As of today, FHA appraisals still require an interior inspection as published here.


March 23, 2020 1:32 pm 

Today, to facilitate liquidity in the mortgage market during the coronavirus national emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide alternative flexibilities to satisfy appraisal requirements through May 17, 2020. 

We urge all Apex lending partners to please review these updated requirements:

Federal Housing Finance Agency

Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac

More information on the application of these temporary accommodations to come.


March 20, 2020 12:08 pm 

Although there are rumors of new appraisal policies and procedures in the works, nothing official has been announced yet. As of this morning, appraisers in most states are being asked to proceed at their discretion while following increased health and safety guidelines. Per the Appraisal Institute, appraisers should refer to  Guide Note 10: Development of an Opinion of Market Value in the Aftermath of a Disaster  and Guide Note 12: Analyzing Market Trends  for further guidance.

Customers should be aware that the Governor of California has issued an Executive Order to suspend all non-essential business, and other states, including Pennsylvania, have similar executive orders to shut down all non-life sustaining business. Currently, Financial Services is listed as one of the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors, as determined by CISA, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  As such, financial institutions are able to continue modified operations and appraisers are able to support those operations.  As long as state orders refer back to CISA, Apex will continue to provide appraisal management services to support our lending partners. However, it is becoming more difficult to find appraisers in these affected areas who are willing or available to accept appraisal orders. Lending partners should expect delays in any state or jurisdiction that has an Executive Order, Shelter in Place, or Safe at Home directive.


 

March 18, 2020 2:47 pm 

According to an official Q&A issued today, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will continue to require interior home inspections amid COVID-19 national emergency.

Q 17: Is FHA continuing to require Appraisals with Property inspections for Single Family Programs?

A 17:  Yes. The FHA Roster Appraiser must complete all required appraisals in accordance with acceptable Appraisal Reporting Forms and Protocols. Appraisers should stay informed of CDC Coronavirus updates, and incorporate prudent measures in their business practice regarding personal contact with the borrower and/or occupants. FHA is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updated guidance, as needed.

Click here for details:  https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/SFH/documents/SFH_COVID_19_QA_03_18_20.pdf

 

March 18, 2020 1:10 pm 

Due to the extremely dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apex will continue to make proactive decisions based on the most current health & safety regulations, best practices, and our own internal values and ethical obligations to our appraisers, team members, customers, and homeowners. 

For now, contract appraisers nationwide will continue doing business under elevated Appraiser & Homeowner Safety Guidelines.  Because appraisers provide an essential business for financial institutions that help keep families safe in their homes, we have received legal guidance that appraisers will be able to perform property inspections in areas that have issued Shelter in Place or legal orders prohibiting individuals from leaving their homes for non-essential business. However, it is important to note that appraisers are under no obligation to accept orders in these areas and will make decisions based on their own personal safety. As such, lending partners may experience some delays during order assignment and quoted turn times. 

We appreciate your patience as we navigate these unprecedented times together.  


 

*Updated March 17, 2020 3:05 pm

March 16, 2020 3:23 pm 

APEX ENSURES BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Due to the increasing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., Apex has proactively implemented our Business Continuity Plan.  Accordingly, the majority of our customer support and quality specialists are already set up and successfully working from home.  This will ensure that our team members and communities are safe. It also mitigates the risk to our daily operations and ensures we are able to deliver sustained service to our customers.

MANDATED SELF-QUARANTINE MAY CAUSE DELAYS

Appraisers and homeowners who have or have been in contact with COVID-19 are under self-quarantine.  California and other states to soon follow, issued a mandatory self-quarantine for members of the community who are age 65 and older.  Please be aware that this will impact many appraisers who will no longer be able to complete inspections—either because of their age or the age of one or more residents living at the property to be inspected.  We will communicate issues as they arise and reassign orders as quickly as possible.

ORDERS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES MAY BE DELAYED

In response to the spread of COVID-19 cases in the state of California, a legal order has been issued prohibiting non-essential business in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and the city of Berkeley which has its own public health division. Based on California’s Order of Health Officer No. C19-07, Apex has received 2 separate legal opinions stating banks and related financial institutions are Essential Businesses (10(f)(vii)) and that appraisers assist Essential Businesses with support/supplies necessary to operate (10(f)(xv)). As such, Apex will continue to do business in California providing that appraisers are willing to accept the orders, homeowners are willing to have an appraiser enter their property, and appraisers and property occupants observe safety guidelines for inspections.  We will do everything we can to place appraisal orders and will let you know right away if an order needs to be placed on hold due to safety concerns. This policy may change as new state and county mandates arise.

MAINTAINING A GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

We recommend that you keep your clients educated and set realistic expectations in regard to turn times, fees, and logistics. We will do the same for you!  Together, we can maintain a great customer experience by ensuring everyone is informed, adaptable, and communicating along the way! 

 

 

 

 

SAFETY GUIDELINES

*Last Updated March 17, 2020 3:40 pm

Appraiser & Homeowner Safety Guidelines

Safety is a top priority at Apex. In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we ask that Appraisers, Homeowners, Property Owners, and / or Property Occupants observe these guidelines to ensure best practices are followed:

Q: Now that there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., is it safe for appraisers to perform property inspections?
A: For the time being, most appraisers are still safely conducting property inspections across the country. We ask that appraisers and property occupants do their part to protect themselves and their communities before, during, and after the inspection takes place.


Q: What safety precautions should appraisers and property occupants take during inspections?
A:. Remember that individuals may be contagious and not demonstrate any symptoms of infection.  To be safe, the following guidelines should be followed:  

  • Appraisers and property occupants may opt to wear a mask and / or gloves as an added safety precaution.
  • Avoid shaking hands at the time of inspection.
  • Maintain social distancing requirements of at least 6 feet apart throughout the inspection.
  • Property occupants should consider removing themselves from the property during the inspection, particularly if the appraiser or one or more property occupants are above the age of 65. 
  • To prevent surface contact, property occupants should turn on all light switches and open all doors prior to entry.
  • Appraisers should disinfect hands and tools thoroughly before and after each inspection
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth at all times.


Q: If the appraiser comes in contact with COVID-19, should the inspection be canceled?
A: If the appraiser suspects that he / she has been in contact with the coronavirus, we need to be notified immediately so that we can reschedule the inspection with another appraiser.  Individuals should stay home and make an appointment with their doctor to get tested and cleared before interacting with members of the community again. Apex will put appraisers on hold from receiving future orders until they have been cleared by a healthcare professional.

Q: Should an appraisal inspection be canceled if a property has been or is suspected of COVID-19 exposure?
A: Yes. We should be notified immediately if a property occupant has been or may have been exposed to the coronavirus. The property will need to be decontaminated and cleared before an appraiser can enter the property.  Apex will put the appraisal on hold until the property has been cleared by a health and safety professional.

Q: When scheduling an inspection, are appraisers allowed to ask property occupants if they have traveled recently or have any signs of respiratory illness?
A: Yes, appraisers may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid discriminatory practices, appraisers must ask all property owners and occupants the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities like Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).  Acceptable questions may include:

  • Is anyone in the household currently sick, coughing, or carrying a fever?
  • Has anyone in the household recently returned from a foreign country in the past 14 days?
  • Has anyone in the household been in contact with parties who have a confirmed case of coronavirus?
  • Is anyone in your household under mandatory or self-quarantine?

 

Q: Is it discriminatory to ask an appraiser or property occupant where they are from?
A: Yes. A person’s ethnicity, language, or association with a country or region does not mean they carry the virus. However, appraisers and property occupants should disclose whether they have recently spent time in an area where COVID-19 has spread, or if they have been in contact with a confirmed case. Appraisers demonstrating discriminatory practices based on these factors will be terminated from our panel upon investigation. Please let us know immediately if you experience, witness, or suspect discriminatory practices.

Q: How will state and county legal orders for mandatory self-quarantine effect appraisal orders?
A: Many areas are issuing “Shelter in Place” or legal orders prohibiting individuals from leaving their homes for non-essential business. Based on California’s Order of Health Officer No. C19-07, Apex has received 2 separate legal opinions stating banks and related financial institutions are Essential Businesses (10(f)(vii)) and that appraisers assist Essential Businesses with support/supplies necessary to operate (10(f)(xv)). As such, Apex will continue to do business in California providing that appraisers are willing to accept the orders, homeowners are willing to have an appraiser enter their property, and appraisers and property occupants observe safety guidelines for inspections.  We will do everything we can to place appraisal orders and will let you know right away if an order needs to be placed on hold due to safety concerns. This policy may change as new state and county mandates arise.

Please be aware that these safety guidelines are subject to change at any time based on the most current regulations, interpretation of those regulations, industry and safety best practices, and our own internal values and ethical obligations to our appraisers, team members, customers, and homeowners. 

 


 

Primary Mortgage Market Survey®

 

Mortgage RatesNew call-to-action

how can we help?

We can customize an appraisal management solution to meet your company's unique needs.