ValuFinders Inc., a provider of valuation services based in Culver City, Calif., has introduced a service that helps originators comply with a Department of Housing and Urban Development Mortgagee Letter regarding accountability and fraudulent appraisal reports.The service, called Appraisal Concierge, was unveiled at the Mortgage Bankers Association convention in Boston. Under HUD Mortgagee Letter 2007-11, dated Sept. 6, 2007, lenders will share responsibility with the appraiser if a poor or fraudulent appraisal leads the FHA to insure a loan at an inflated amount. "Lenders and brokers will soon be just as responsible for fraudulent and deficient appraisals as the appraiser," said Joe Williams, chief executive of ValuFinders. "Our system is an independent portal that acts as a 'middle man' in accepting orders and facilitating the deliverables back to the lender." Appraisal Concierge is described as an outsourcing database that lets lenders and brokers order appraisals through the Web. The system randomly selects an appraiser from a pool. "This service bypasses communications between lenders or brokers and appraisers," assuring appraiser independence, Mr. Williams said.

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