A non-profit organization is under investigation in Indiana for saddling unwitting buyers with houses worth less than their mortgage [FortWayne.com]. While this is nothing new, I was struck by the lack of action by officials.

In 1998 she bought a house from the Fort Wayne Neighborhood Housing Partnership with a mortgage two-thirds higher than the home’s assessed value. She said she was misled about the price of a homebuyer training course and about grants she was told she would not have to repay.

She was shown an appraisal that compared the house in a struggling neighborhood to three properties in a vastly different, historic neighborhood more than a mile away._

How is this possible? No one seems to blame the appraiser in this case. Why not? If the appraiser did their job (I don’t know if it was an internal appraisal or outside the agency – I assume it was outside), then this case would likely be a moot point since the deal would not have moved forward. I still find it amazing that there are so many in our profession that think of this as another assignment for a standard fee (we are not even good as an industry at being criminals) yet it causes someone so much pain.

House-flipping scams occur most often when someone buys a cheap property, does some modest renovations, has an appraiser overstate the value and then sells it to an unsuspecting buyer, Smith said. That leaves the homeowner and the bank holding the bag.

Why is there a dettachment of the appraiser from the process? Why can’t the institutions go after the E & O policy holders of this type of appraiser rigorously? What is stopping them?

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