A St. Petersburg property appraiser will testify before a congressional committee on Thursday about the impact of appraisal oversight brought about after the collapse of the housing market.
Frank Gregoire, a former chairman of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board and the appraisal committee for the National Association of Realtors, has become a respected Florida voice concerning the influence of third-party management companies that hire property appraisers.
"The bulk of my testimony has to do with ensuring appraiser independence, and the value and importance of appraiser independence," Gregoire said.
Property appraisers are frequently hired by appraiser management companies that serve as a go-between for buyers and lenders, Gregoire said. Those companies want to maximize profit by hiring cheaper appraisers who will look at properties quickly, he said.
Most of the time they are underqualified, and they aren't from the area, Gregoire said.
"Buyers don't expect the appraiser to just rubber stamp the sale price," he said. "They want a good, honest, objective appraisal by somebody that has the necessary qualifications to do a credible job."
And lenders are suspicious if they see that home prices and values are going up, because national numbers still show the opposite, he said. Appraisers are then hesitant to give a home a higher value.
"As long as the appraiser can demonstrate that his data is supported and correct, the lender should just lay off," Gregoire said.
Gregoire is a state certified residential appraiser who works primarily in Pinellas County. He also acts as an expert witness and does appraisal reviews for disciplinary hearings and other cases.
He will speak before the House Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity in a hearing titled "Appraisal Oversight: the Regulatory Impact on Consumers and Businesses."