THE ‘ERROR’ IN THE 2010 INTERAGENCY APPRAISAL GUIDELINES

July 30, 2018 – The following wording from the December 2010 IAEG suggests that property value be used to determine if an appraisal or evaluation is needed.  Obviously, this is not possible since property value is not known at the time a decision is made.

The text appears next followed by a reply from G. Kevin Lawton with the OCC.  Mr. Lawton was kind enough to provide the response and allow it to be credited to him.

Text from Item 1 in Appendix A:

1. Appraisal Threshold
For transactions with a transaction value equal to or less than $250,000, the Agencies’ appraisal regulations, at a minimum, require an evaluation consistent with safe and sound banking practices.54 If an institution enters into a transaction that is secured by several individual properties that are not part of a tract development, the estimate of value of each individual property should determine whether an appraisal or evaluation would be required for that property. For example, an institution makes a loan secured by seven commercial properties in different markets with two properties valued in excess of the appraisal threshold and five properties valued less than the appraisal threshold. An institution would need to obtain an appraisal on the two properties valued in excess of the appraisal threshold and evaluations on the five properties below the appraisal threshold, even though the aggregate loan commitment exceeds the appraisal threshold.

Mr. Lawton’s response:

This is one of those areas in the Guidelines where the wording, which mixes the concept of “value” and “transaction value,” can create a problem that is confusing and not consistent with the regulation, and I have had banks and examiners complain about the inconsistency.

The solution is to have banks allocate “transaction value” among the individual properties rather than “property value.”  The bank should allocate the entire aggregate commitment among properties.  Doing this allocation of “transaction value” rather than expected “property value,” sticks to the spirit of the regulation itself.  There is another, bigger advantage of using transaction value as the driver: it avoids the Catch‐22 problem that some banks have brought up: “what if I allocate property value to one property of $200,000, obtain an evaluation, and the evaluation result shows a market value (property value) of $260,000, do I then need to go get an appraisal?”  In other words, “I estimated the property value to be $200,000 and I was wrong. The property value is $260,000 and since, using the “property value” as the driver for what is needed, I now need an appraisal because the property value is above the threshold. This, in itself, is an area where the Guidelines are not consistent with the regulation, since the Guidelines talk about property values “less than the appraisal threshold” (Appendix A, Section 1). That sentence, and the following sentence in the Guidelines mix the concept of “property value” and “transaction value” (last two sentences in Section 1).

The “appraisal threshold” deals with transaction value, not property value.  So, back to the example above, if the banker estimates (allocates) $200,000 of the transaction value to the property (rather than “guessing” a $200,000 property value) then an evaluation is allowable and if the evaluation result shows a property value of $260,000 there is no Catch‐22.  It does not matter what the property value result is because property value does not drive what is needed.  So when a bank addresses “property value” as the driver of what product (appraisal or evaluation) is the minimum product required under the regulation they may need an evaluation (based on a guess of property value of $200,000) followed by an appraisal (because the evaluation shows a property value of $260,000). This is not what the Guidelines intended.

One could probably argue this several ways, but the “allocation of transaction value” among the individual properties, accomplishes the following:  1) it is consistent with the intent of the regulation, 2) doesn’t jumble the concepts of property value and transaction value, 3) avoids the “what if’s” when property value is the driver, 4) is understandable, and, 5) is a practical solution for our bankers.

Hope this provides some clarity to this issue.