Walden urges speedier home loans for veterans

Congressman notes shortage in VA appraisers

WASHINGTON - At a recent hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., called for action to improve the sometimes grueling home-loan process for Oregon’s veterans.

Walden said has heard from veterans throughout Oregon about significant delays in the appraisal process for home loans guaranteed to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Due to a shortage in VA appraisers, months-long delays in receiving an appraisal have created great uncertainty for Oregon veterans and their families in the housing market, even resulting in the loss of prospective homes.

“Throughout my district, I've heard from veterans who are waiting a long time - too long, frankly - to get an appraisal on their VA-backed home loan,” said Walden. “I've had a dozen or more veterans contact me for assistance while facing significant delays in receiving their VA-guaranteed home loans due to this appraisal backlog. I've also heard from Realtors and loan officers who find that in their efforts to secure homes for veterans and their families, receiving a VA-approved appraisal is the most challenging and time-consuming requirement.

“Some of these veterans and their advocates have waited up to nine weeks to even have an appraiser assigned to their case, making them far less competitive as prospective buyers in the housing market. One veteran even lost his prospective home when his interest rate lock expired as he waited for an appraisal, and I think we would all agree that is simply unacceptable.

"At the end of last year, I wrote to the VA regional loan center to ask how we can address this problem head-on. I know that higher appraisal fees have been approved for some counties in my district, and I've heard that one of the issues was that you weren't getting paid as much if you were doing a VA appraisal as if you were doing another kind.

“The VA has managed to cut down on some of the appraisal backlog in rural Oregon, and I appreciate the attention to that. In my conversations with Realtors, veterans groups, and VA employees, I've heard that the appraisal shortage is a market-wide issue that may soon spill over into other federal programs and eventually into the private sector.

Increased federal regulations and barriers to entry for would-be appraisers seems to be moving us in the wrong direction. An increase in VA appraisal fees may help in the short run, but we need other policy changes as well. We have to look at the longer-term issue but in the meantime, we must take care of our veterans, we must make sure they are not handcuffed by a process, when they are just trying to get a roof over their heads.”

Last December, Walden sent a letter to the VA regional office in Denver to bring attention to the issue. Walden wrote, “These lengthy delays present a hardship both financially and logistically by creating uncertainty of housing for veterans.”

The regional office in Denver is responsible for handling home appraisals for veterans in Walden’s district. Walden called on the regional office to report on what strategies, if any, the VA is currently utilizing to address the overall shortage in the VA appraiser market, and reduce the wait times for veterans seeking an appraisal for a VA-backed home loan. Attached is a complete copy of Walden’s letter.

Walden continues to work toward a long-term solution to address the current issues in the VA home-loan process and make it easier for Oregon’s veterans to buy a home – not harder. If you or a loved one are experiencing problems with the VA, you can call Walden’s office toll free from the 541 area code at 800-533-3303

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