How Is the Lending Industry Changing Amid COVID-19?

March 24, 2020
Drive by home appraisal
By Jason Stitt

Weeks ago, digital may have seemed like the future of real estate. The future is now. After years of dipping its toes into virtual buying and selling, the housing industry is jumping in headfirst to combat the effects of the coronavirus’ shutdowns. In one of the biggest moves yet, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is directing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to take appraisals online to protect appraisers and homeowners from the virus. Appraisers will now be able to virtually assess properties as well as drive-by homes to check out the exteriors. Though the system is not perfect, it is a way to keep the home lending industry moving and making sure homebuyers are not left in the dark. 

Jonathan Miller felt a sense of relief when the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced this morning that it is instructing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage enterprises it regulates, to adopt alternative home appraisal methods. 

Instituted in light of the coronavirus crisis, which has sent cities and states into various stages of lockdown, the rule, along with new means of verifying borrowers’ employment, is in place through May 17.   

Miller, president and CEO of real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel in New York City, heralded the move as a measure not only to protect appraisers and homeowners but also to facilitate the home lending industry.  

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