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Financial Institution Letters
October 27, 1994
[Source:FDIC Financial Institution Letter (FIL--74--94), dated November 11, 1994]
Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) requires the agencies to adopt regulations on the preparation and use of appraisals by federally regulated financial institutions.2 Such real estate appraisals are to be in writing and performed in accordance with uniform standards by an individual whose competency has been demonstrated and whose professional conduct is subject to effective State supervision.
Common agency regulations3 issued pursuant to Section 304 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (FDICIA) also require each regulated institution to adopt and maintain written real estate lending policies that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices and that reflect consideration of the real estate lending guidelines attached to the regulation. The real estate lending guidelines state that a real estate lending program should include an appropriate real estate appraisal and evaluation program.
An institution's real estate appraisal and evaluation policies and procedures will be reviewed as part of the examination of the institution's overall real estate-related activities. An institution's policies and procedures should be incorporated into an effective appraisal and evaluation program. Examiners will consider the institution's size and the nature of its real estate-related activities when assessing the appropriateness of its program.
When analyzing individual transactions, examiners will review an appraisal or evaluation to determine whether the methods, assumptions, and findings are reasonable and in compliance with the agencies' appraisal regulations, policies,4supervisory guidelines, and the institution's policies. Examiners also will review the steps taken by an institution to ensure that the individuals who perform its appraisals and evaluations are qualified and are not subject to conflicts of interest. Institutions that fail to maintain a sound appraisal or evaluation program or to comply with the agencies' appraisal regulations, policies, or these supervisory guidelines will be cited in examination reports and may be criticized for unsafe and unsound banking practices. Deficiencies will require corrective action.
An institution's board of directors is responsible for reviewing and adopting policies and procedures that establish an effective real estate appraisal and evaluation program. The program should:
Selection of Individuals Who May Perform Appraisals and Evaluations
An institution's program should establish criteria to select, evaluate, and monitor the performance of the individual(s) who performs a real estate appraisal or evaluation. The criteria should ensure that:
Under the agencies' appraisal regulations, the appraiser must be selected and engaged directly by the institution or its agent. The appraiser's client is the institution, not the borrower. An institution may use an appraisal that was prepared by an appraiser engaged directly by another financial services institution, as long as the institution determines that the appraisal conforms to the agencies' appraisal regulations and is otherwise acceptable.
Independence of the Appraisal And Evaluation Function
Because the appraisal and evaluation process is an integral component of the credit underwriting process, it should be isolated from influence by the institution's loan production process. An appraiser and an individual providing evaluation services should be independent of the loan and collection functions of the institution and have no interest, financial or otherwise, in the property or the transaction. If absolute lines of independence cannot be achieved, an institution must be able to clearly demonstrate that it has prudent safeguards to isolate its collateral evaluation process from influence or interference from the loan production process.
The agencies recognize, however, that it is not always possible or practical to separate the loan and collection functions from the appraisal or evaluation process. In some cases, such as in a small or rural institution or branch, the only individual qualified to analyze the real estate collateral may also be a loan officer, other officer, or director of the institution. To ensure their independence, such lending officials, officers, or directors should abstain from any vote or approval involving loans on which they performed an appraisal or evaluation.
Transactions That Require Appraisals
Although the agencies' appraisal regulations exempt certain categories of real estate-related financial transactions from the appraisal requirements, most real estate transactions over $250,000 are considered federally related transactions and thus require appraisals.5 A "federally related transaction" means any real estate-related financial transaction in which the agencies engage, contract for, or regulate, and that requires the services of an appraiser. An agency also may impose more stringent appraisal requirements than the appraisal regulations require, such as when an institution's troubled condition is attributable to real estate loan underwriting problems.6
Minimum Appraisal Standards
The agencies' appraisal regulations include five minimum standards for the preparation of an appraisal. The appraisal must:
Each appraisal must contain an estimate of market value, as defined by the agencies' appraisal regulations.
An institution may engage an appraiser to perform either a Complete or Limited Appraisal.7 When performing a Complete Appraisal assignment, an appraiser must comply with all USPAP standards without departing from any binding requirements and specific guidelines when estimating market value. When performing a Limited Appraisal, the appraiser elects to invoke the Departure Provision which allows the appraiser to depart, under limited conditions, from standards identified as specific guidelines. For example, in a Limited Appraisal, the appraiser might not utilize all three approaches to value. Departure from standards designated as binding requirements is not permitted.
An institution and appraiser must concur that use of the Departure Provision is appropriate for the transaction before the appraiser commences the appraisal assignment. The appraiser must ensure that the resulting appraisal report will not mislead the institution or other intended users of the appraisal report. The agencies do not prohibit the use of a Limited Appraisal for a federally related transaction, but the agencies believe that institutions should be cautious in their use of a Limited Appraisal because it will be less thorough than a Complete Appraisal.
Complete and Limited Appraisal assignments may be reported in three different report formats: a Self-Contained Report, a Summary Report, or a Restricted Report. The major difference among these three reports relates to the degree of detail presented in the report by the appraiser. The Self-Contained Appraisal Report provides the most detail, while the Summary Appraisal Report presents the information in a condensed manner. The Restricted Report provides a capsulized report with the supporting details maintained in the appraiser's files.
The agencies believe that the Restricted Report format will not be appropriate to underwrite a significant number of federally related transactions due to the lack of sufficient supporting information and analysis in the appraisal report. However, it might be appropriate to use this type of appraisal report for ongoing collateral monitoring of an institution's real estate transactions and under other circumstances when an institution's program requires an evaluation.
Moreover, since the institution is responsible for selecting the appropriate appraisal report to support its underwriting decisions, its program should identify the type of appraisal report that will be appropriate for various lending transactions. The institution's program should consider the risk, size, and complexity of the individual loan and the supporting collateral when determining the level of appraisal development and the type of report format that will be ordered. When ordering an appraisal report, institutions may want to consider the benefits of a written engagement letter that outlines the institution's expectations and delineates each party's responsibilities, especially for large, complex, or out-of-area properties.
Transactions That Require Evaluations
A formal opinion of market value prepared by a State licensed or certified appraiser is not always necessary. Instead, less formal evaluations of the real estate may suffice for transactions that are exempt from the agencies' appraisal requirements. The agencies' appraisal regulations allow an institution to use an appropriate evaluation of the real estate rather than an appraisal when the transaction:
Institutions should also establish criteria for obtaining appraisals or evaluations for safety and soundness reasons for transactions that are otherwise exempt from the agencies' appraisal regulations.
An institution should establish prudent standards for the preparation of evaluations. At a minimum, an evaluation should:
An evaluation report should include calculations, supporting assumptions, and, if utilized, a discussion of comparable sales. Documentation should be sufficient to allow an institution to understand the analysis, assumptions, and conclusions. An institution's own real estate loan portfolio experience and value estimates prepared for recent loans on comparable properties might provide a basis for evaluations.
An evaluation should provide an estimate of value to assist the institution in assessing the soundness of the transaction. Prudent practices also require that as an institution engages in more complex real estate-related financial transactions, or as it overall exposure increases, a more detailed evaluation should be performed. For example, an evaluation for a home equity loan might be based primarily on information derived from a sales data services organization or current tax assessment information, while an evaluation for an income-producing real estate property should fully describe the current and expected use of the property and include an analysis of the property's rental income and expenses.
Valid Appraisals and Evaluations
The agencies allow an institution to use an existing appraisal or evaluation to support a subsequent transaction, if the institution documents that the existing estimate of value remains valid. Therefore, a prudent appraisal and evaluation program should include criteria to determine whether an existing appraisal or evaluation remains valid to support a subsequent transaction. Criteria for determining whether an existing appraisal or evaluation remains valid will vary depending upon the condition of the property and the marketplace, and the nature of any subsequent transaction. Factors that could cause changes to originally reported values include: the passage of time; the volatility of the local market; the availability of financing; the inventory of competing properties; improvements to, or lack of maintenance of, the subject property or competing surrounding properties; changes in zoning; or environmental contamination. The institution must document the information sources and analyses used to conclude that an existing appraisal or evaluation remains valid for subsequent transactions.
Renewals, Refinancings, and Other Subsequent Transactions
While the agencies' appraisal regulations generally allow appropriate evaluations of real estate collateral in lieu of an appraisal for loan renewals and refinancings, in certain situations an appraisal is required. If new funds are advanced over reasonable closing costs, an institution would be expected to obtain a new appraisal for the renewal of an existing transaction when there is a material change in market conditions or the physical aspects of the property that threatens the institution's real estate collateral protection.
The decision to reappraise or reevaluate the real estate collateral should be guided by the exemption for renewals, refinancings, and other subsequent transactions. Loan workouts, debt restructurings, loan assumptions, and similar transactions involving the addition or substitution of borrowers may qualify for the exemption for renewals, refinancings, and other subsequent transactions. Use of this exemption depends on the condition and quality of the loan, the soundness of the underlying collateral and the validity of the existing appraisal or evaluation.
A reappraisal would not be required when an institution advances funds to protect its interest in a property, such as to repair damaged property, because these funds should be used to restore the damaged property to its original condition. If a loan workout involves modification of the terms and conditions of an existing credit, including acceptance of new or additional real estate collateral, which facilitates the orderly collection of the credit or reduces the institution's risk of loss, a reappraisal or reevaluation may be prudent, even if it is obtained after the modification occurs.
An institution may engage in a subsequent transaction based on documented equity from a valid appraisal or evaluation, if the planned future use of the property is consistent with the use identified in the appraisal or evaluation. If a property, however, has reportedly appreciated because of a planned change in use of the property, such as rezoning, an appraisal would be required for a federally related transaction, unless another exemption applied.
An institution's appraisal and evaluation program should establish effective internal controls that promote compliance with the program's standards. An individual familiar with the appropriate agency's appraisal regulation should ensure that the institution's appraisals and evaluations comply with the agencies' appraisal regulations, these guidelines, and the institution's program. Loan administration files should document this compliance review, although a detailed analysis or comprehensive analytical procedures are not required for every appraisal or evaluation. For some loans, the compliance review may be part of the loan officer's overall credit analysis and may take the form of either a narrative or a checklist. Corrective action should be undertaken for noted deficiencies by the individual who prepared the appraisal or evaluation.
An institution's appraisal and evaluation program should also have comprehensive analytical procedures that focus on certain types of loans, such as large-dollar credits, loans secured by complex or specialized properties, non-residential real estate construction loans, or out-of-area real estate. These comprehensive analytical procedures should be designed to verify that the methods, assumptions, and conclusions are reasonable and appropriate for the transaction and the property. These procedures should provide for a more detailed review of selected appraisals and evaluations prior to the final credit decision. The individual(s) performing these reviews should have the appropriate training or experience, and be independent of the transaction.
Appraisers and persons performing evaluations should be responsible for any deficiencies in their reports. Deficient reports should be returned to them for correction. Unreliable appraisals or evaluations should be replaced prior to the final credit decision. Changes to an appraisal's estimate of value are permitted only as a result of a review conducted by an appropriately qualified State licensed or certified appraiser in accordance with Standard III of USPAP.
The institution should also develop criteria for obtaining reappraisals or reevaluations as part of a program of prudent portfolio review and monitoring techniques--even when additional financing is not being contemplated. Examples of such types of situations include large credit exposures and out-of-area loans.
Financial institutions are encouraged to make referrals directly to state appraiser regulatory authorities when a State licensed or certified appraiser violates USPAP, applicable state law, or engages in other unethical or unprofessional conduct. Examiners finding evidence of unethical or unprofessional conduct by appraisers will forward their findings and recommendations to their supervisory office for appropriate disposition and referral to the state, as necessary.
1 FRB:"Guidelines for Real Estate Appraisal and Evaluation Programs," September 28, 1992; OCC: BC--225, "Real Estate Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines," September 28, 1992; FDIC: FIL--69--92, "Guidelines for Real Estate Appraisal and Evaluation Programs," September 30, 1992; OTS: Thrift Bulletin 55, "Real Estate Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines," October 13, 1992.
4 The appraisal guidance contained in the "Interagency Policy Statement on the Review and Classification of Commercial Real Estate Loans," November 7, 1991, generally applies to all transactions.
5 In order to facilitate recovery in designated major disaster areas, subject to safety and soundness considerations, Section 2 of the Depository Institutions Disaster Relief Act of 1992 authorized the agencies to waive certain appraisal requirements for up to three years after a Presidential declaration of a natural disaster.
6 As a matter of policy, OTS requires problem associations and associations in troubled condition to obtain appraisals for all real estate-related transactions over $100,000 (unless the transaction is otherwise exempt).
7 USPAP Statement on Appraisal Standards No. 7 (SMT--7)--Permitted Departure from Specific Guidelines for Real Property Appraisal, issued March 30, 1994, effective July 1, 1994.
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